The following article was written by John Komp and published by Thrasher Magazine in May, 1988. Action photography by Ron Schneider. Bowl photos by Steve Keenan. It gives details of the reopening of the park in the 1980s. If you would like to check out the full issue, it’s posted by Thrasher here.“For once, the gods smile upon the Midwest. We put up with a lot of harsh suff here: nasty, cold, snowy winters, short summers and, of course, the Midwest attitude barrier. But we have been rewarded. The Turf, one of the last parks in the country, has reopened for year-round shredding.
Originally opened in September of 1979 under the name “Surf ‘n Turf,” the park was a fully functional adaptation of West Coast parks that, at the time, were as numerous as Friday fish fries are here in Brew City. It featured a unique indoor/outdoor environment accessed by a series of retractable doors surrounding the skating area. Skaters flocked to the spot in the early days during the first great resurgence of the sport, but as the poseurs and wanna-be’s found new bandwagons to jump on, business began to fall off.
Sometime in late ’82, the original owners of the park leased it to a new company under the assumption that the skating would continue. They must have been way dismayed to find the building adorned with an enormous sign reading “Bell E. Buttons” and filled with horny, unfulfilled old men drinking expensive beverages and watching young girls mobilize their endowments, free from the restraint of clothing. Unfortunately, legal technicalities allowed this sordid behavior to continue while poor, unfortunate skaters ground their teeth in frustration, knowing that prime skate terrain was sitting wasted and out of reach.This travesty continued until Jerry Steurnagel, one of the original owners, discovered a loophole in the lease that allowed him to evict the strip club. Jerry consequently became a hero to skaters nationwide, as well as to the local common council, who were never terribly enthused with Bell E. Buttons. It’s true that they did give Jerry some problems getting a permit for the park. He explained that the “COMPLETE NUDITY” sign would be removed when a permit was granted, and, wonder of wonders, he had the permit in his hands that very night.
With that out of the way, Jerry and company set out to bring the park back up to ultimate conditions. The Turf, as it is now known, boasts a triple cloverleaf pool, a nice, deep keyhole and a halfpipe capsule with a healthy portion of vert, as well as a smaller bowl and a mini lipslide gully. All the coping, once ground to shreds, has been replaced with fresh stuff and extensive resurfacing has been done.
The only minuses are a two-coper rules and fencing around each run, which have been raised to prevent you from injuring Mom and Dad. The ride is smooth and kinkless, perfect for carving. “You must survive Upland,” says Jay, employee and local, “but you can just ride the Turf. On a ramp you just go back and forth and do your tricks, chk chk chk, like a little monkey, but here you can pick a line and carve!” The pro shop is bigger than ever, stocking everything a skater might need to deplete his or her allowance.
Everyone around these parts, as well as skaters from all over this fine land, is pumped over The Turf. Ex-locals Steve “Oz” Otason, Don Nelson, Brian “Gomer” Istavanick, the Beaudoins, Paul Hugason, The Meedge and others can be seen rippin’ lines right out of the seventies. It’s the last park to be built in American, one of the few that hasn’t surrendered to the bulldozer. Pros have been dropping in regularly, and they are stoked without fail. Steve Keenan, Rob Roskopp, Keith Meek, Jeff Kendall, Corey O’Brian and Jeff Grosso impressed all viewers with lines and tricks that couldn’t be accomplished on any ramp. Over 1500 riders from all over the midwest as well as the West Coast and the South have become members in less than three months, a sign that the skate scene is as healthy as ever here in God’s country.” – John Komp, Thrasher Magazine, May 1988