Enterprise Story: Washington Jefferson Skatepark

Rain in Oregon is an unfortunate problem for skateboarders who wish to access skateparks. In Eugene, there are no covered skateparks, so if its raining you’re out of luck. With the ongoing rain this fall and winter in Eugene, all four of Eugene’s most popular skateparks tend to be deserted.

Mother of three, Becky Burkeen, enjoys taking her son Luke to the skateparks in Lake Oswego, Oregon but their local skatepark has closed for the season. She has expressed to the staff of the skatepark that a covered or indoor skatepark would be a beneficial impact for the community and provide a place where kids can go year round. The same is true for skateboarders in Eugene. Whether it is children just learning to skate, or more experienced skateboarders who wish to utilize skateparks to practice more challenging moves there is no where to go when it is raining.

Skateboarding is one of the most popular sports in the United States. However, along with it comes a stigma that causes many people to believe that skateparks are not a positive attribute to a community. According to U.S. Parks and Recreation Magazine “many seem to have no knowledge of or concern for the many positives a skatepark provides and often only seem to look at building a skatepark in response to nuisance street skating and opposition to bans.”

The opposition of building a skatepark could come from a few different places. People worry about crime occurring in the are where a skatepark is located including vandalism, drug activity, and theft. Another issue, especially for those liable for the skatepark, worry about injuries that may occur as people attempt moves they are not ready for. Another issue is the high cost of building a skatepark, with the cost reaching to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On the other hand, Skateparks provide a safe environment for people of all ages to learn how to skateboard or to improve on their skating skills. Because of the smooth surfaces and well lit areas, it eliminates some of the injuries that may occur from street skateboarding. It is a healthy activity for the youth of the United States. “A skatepark can provide a safe social venue to burn off youthful exuberance in a healthy manner thus treating the cause rather than the symptoms of delinquent behavior and saving communities in policing and health cost.” says the Public Skatepark Development Guide. According to Skate Eugene, there are 16 million baseball players in the United States with over 110,000 baseball diamonds and there are 13 million skateboarders with only 2,300 skateparks.

In Eugene, there are currently several skateparks including: Amazon Park, Cal Young, Churchill, and Bethel. All four of these parks are uncovered, limiting use during the fall through spring seasons. These parks have been popular, and that is why people have been pushing to build a new, larger skatepark, that could accommodate more people in the community. Nick Mishima, an avid rollerblader, said that a covered skate park would be beneficial for Eugene because “it would provide a place for skaters to go no matter what the weather. Also I would like bigger skatepark so I could attempt more challenging tricks.” Mishima added that it would also cut down on skating in places where it is considered to be illegal.

Plans for a new skatepark in Eugene have been drawn up and approved. The site of the new skate park is at Washington Jefferson Park located underneath the I-105 bridge. This park will be much larger than the other skateparks currently in Eugene. Also the park will be covered by the bridges so skaters will be able to use the park year round. Not only does this provide a place for people to skate no matter what the weather is, but it is more worth the money to build a skatepark that is used year round rather than in the sunny months.

Partial funding was secured in 2008 from the city’s Capital Improvement Plan. However, more funds needed to be raised to make the skate park happen.

In October 2012, the decision to financially support Skatepark at Washington Jefferson Park was passed by city council. All eight members of the council voted yes to use funds from the Systems Development Charge to construct the Washington Jefferson Skatepark. Additionally, the funds will contribute to the on going maintenance the park will require after it is built. Additional funds will need to be secured in the future, to continue the maintenance of the park but the Eugene Parks Foundation has starting working to raise these funds.

The group, Skate Eugene, felt that the presence of a skatepark in this location would be a beneficial addition to the Eugene community. “Skatepark advocates and supporters along with other community members in favor of realizing a different future for the W-J Park are stunned and electrified at this amazing and fortunate turn of events.”

The park will begin construction in 2013 and will be 18,000 square feet. It will be the only year round, and fully-lit skatepark in the area. They will also rebuild the bathroom and playground, in a more visible, safer location.

Washington Jefferson Park was the location of Occupy Eugene. It is a large open grassy area, and after Occupy Eugene the grass was mostly mud due to the high traffic of people.  The proposal to build a skatepark at Washington Jefferson park would help to revamp the park and not only restore it but make an all around better park. It would also utilize a space that is now not used by many people. It is a centrally located in Eugene and is located under several bridges so the added noise would not be a factor in an already loud area.

The new skatepark is being designed by Dreamland Skateparks. The skatepark will include a large flat open space, a quarter pipe that goes into a hilly transition, two bowls: one small and one large, a grind bench, several ledges, and a manual pad. It will provide a cleaner, more modern look for the park which is currently just a large area of grass. Dreamland Skateparks is based out of Lincoln City, Oregon. On their staff they have professional skateboarders, licensed landscape architects, and concrete craftsmen. They have built skateparks all across the United States, and have even done some international projects.

When considering a design for their skateparks Dreamland Skate parks feels that “Insight, creativity, and long-term [return on investment] are what distinguish Dreamland designs, a result of taking into account such constraints as local skateboarding inclinations, [crime prevention through environmental design] concerns, and local committee goals, with the ultimate goal of maximizing your investment by providing a facility that supports long-term participant activity.”

A larger, new skatepark in Eugene will benefit families, students, and avid skateboarders all over Eugene and its smaller neighboring cities. This new skatepark will be what the skating community in Eugene has been missing and will open up Eugene as a more skateboarding friendly city.

Guide to Eugene’s Skateparks:

IMG_1606 IMG_1599Cal Young: Cal Young skatepark is located next to Cal Young Middle school. It is a medium size skatepark with several half pipes and rails. Next to it is a large playground making it ideal for families. Parking is limited in this area.

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Churchill: Churchill skatepark is located on Baily Hill Rd and 18th street. It is a smaller skatepark but has several large bowls. It is located directly behind Churchill high school so it is the perfect location for students in that area.

 

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Amazon: Located on 28th and Hilliard near the Amazon Community center. This skatepark is a very small bowl. It is covered in colorful graffiti. The park surrounding it features a dog park, walking and running trails, a community center, a park, and a swimming pool.

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Emerald: Emerald Skate park is located next to the Emerald Community center. It has two railings, a skate box, and small and large half pipes. Next to it is a large playground.

 

 

Common Skatepark Obstacles and their descriptions:

Quarter Pipe: A quarter pipe looks like a ramp. The top ledge usually has a metal lining.

Half Pipe: A half pipe is two quarter pipes facing each other so people can skate back and forth. It looks like half of a pipe cut in half.

Spine: Two quarter pipes that are placed back to back.

Bank: A bank is a ramp that is used to pick up speed before going over another obstacle.

Bowl: A bowl is similar to a swimming pool, but its empty. It varies in depth.

Flat Rail: A Flat Rail is a rail that is parallel with the ground.

Sloped Rail: A sloped rail is sloped at an angle.

Kinked Rail: A kinked rail is two angled rails, at different heights, with a flat section in the middle.

Stair: A stair is a simple staircase.

Hand Rail: A hand rail is a rail that goes down a stair case.

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