MARYSVILLE (CBS13) — It was a decade of big-dreaming for Sly Espinoza. His idol, the number one skateboarder in the world, Tony Hawk, donated $10,000 in 2010 to Marysville Miner’s Skate Park.
“It hasn’t changed one bit,” he said. “Nothing.”
Espinoza was a teen at the time. Now pushing his late 20s, he claims no one from the non-profit, Friday Night Live, which received the grant, can explain what happened to the money.
“All I want is for them to man up and say something,” he said. “No one’s saying anything.”
Marysville City Councilman Bruce Buttocavoli, a volunteer for the original skate park, said in the spring that nearly $2,000 of the Tony Hawk money went to the original skate park. He said upset neighbors got in the way of Friday Night Live spending the remaining $8,000.
“The problem is, the neighbors in the area are not thrilled with the expansion,” said Buttacavoli.
But the Tony Hawk Foundation told us the grant money must be used within two years or returned. It’s been nearly 10.
Janet Siller, Volunteer Executive Director of Friday Night Live said, “It doesn’t always happen overnight like you’d like to see it happen.”
Siller told us in May she used larger grant money first to build the original skate park and saved between $7,400 and $8,000 of the Tony Hawk donation for phase two improvements.
“They weren’t nitpicking like you have on other grants,” said Siller. “‘Show me the receipts…’ you know what I mean? Those kind of things.”
But Siller said city politics and the limited money left made it tough to spend.
“The only thing we could do would have nothing to do with the skateboard park. Bushes, trees, those kinds of things,” Siller said.
After we got involved, Siller offered to return the money. The Tony Hawk Foundation gave her another chance to spend it. Siller said, “I do want to honor that,” and pledged to us to spend the money this fiscal year.
Months later, we checked in on the progress and she left me this puzzling voice mail: “Hi Kurtis, this is Janet Siller from Friday Night Live. Just know that every dollar that was awarded to Sutter-Yuba Friday Night Live on behalf of the Tony Hawk Foundation was spent at the end of the grant, which had to be spent within two years. There is no funding that is tied to Tony Hawk in any way, shape or form.”
But where did the money go? We repeatedly asked, but never got the answer.
After the contradiction, the Tony Hawk Foundation requested proof that the money was spent and said without it, they want the donation returned. Tony Hawk’s executive director said most grants get media coverage as this one did, which is all the proof they’ve required.
“We have not had reason to require accounting documents,” said Tony Hawk Foundation Executive Director Miki Vuckovich. “The process has served us well up to now.”
The Tony Hawk Foundation said it’s awarded 611 skate park grants in 50 states. It said an organization’s valid nonprofit status has historically been the credential confirming credibility and trustworthiness. The foundation’s board is now reconsidering what it will require as proof when it awards grants.
The Tony Hawk Foundation said they are still looking for answers but if there is no proof the money was spent, they will want the money back.