Roller girls take back 'filthy' practice rink

SPOKANE - Spokane's roller girls need a place to practice, but the only place they can find that's free is Downtown in a forgotten area underneath Interstate 90, that's far from fit for roller girls.

The site at 4th and McClellan is dirty and unsafe, but instead of giving up and continuing the search it, the roller girls decided to clean it up.This space is owned by the Department of Transportation, but is leased to the City of Spokane. Even though there are tennis courts and a space for roller skating, cleaning there goes by the way side due to the homeless population that lives there. Despite the dirty state of affairs, the space is just the right price for the Lilac City Roller Girls. "It's free, that's the first thing," said skater Marci Boomer. Before they launched a clean-up effort, the roller derby girls that practiced here simply tolerated the conditions. "Yeah, we used this space a lot for our skating," said skater Annie Jo Grinolds. "It's definitely been forgotten."The space is easy to forget, partly because it goes beyond the conventional definition of "dirty"."Urination, bio waste, you name it," said Boomer. "We've had girls get pick eye, we've had girls get sick from down here."And the smell, well Grinolds eloquently described it as "mostly like pee"."It was way past funky, if you're standing downwind, it's past funky," said Boomer. After several cases of pink eye and a few other mysterious illnesses, the roller girls set out to change it. "I just fell right over there... you slide through human waste. And once you've fallen through it, you just know somethings got to change," said Boomer. So on Saturday, roller girls and their families and friends grabbed shovels, brooms, and a fire hose in order to take back their rink.They cleaned for most of the day, some of the homeless who occupy the spot pitched in as well. "They picked up all the beer cans and wrappers," Boomer said. Many of the homeless rolled up their bedding and joined the cleaning crew, armed with brooms, all so the woman of Lilac City Roller Girls can skate."It's a public space that we want everybody who does roller sports to come out and use it," said Grinolds.