A home of their own

By raising money to build a skatepark, Albany hopes to give skateboarders ...

By Cathy Ingalls
Albany Democrat-Herald

Cory Parr hopes that his days of skateboarding in downtown Albany and on a ramp in his parent's barn are about over.

Skating in a barn and on city streets doesn't offer much of a challenge, and it isn't easy to hook up in those places with other skaters.

Parr's frustrations over a lack of a good place to skate in Albany could be over by as soon as next fall. That's because this weekend, the city of Albany is launching a fund-raiser to build a skatepark.

By June 1, Parks and Recreation Director Dave Clark hopes to collect $30,000 in donations to construct a park on the former Veal Furniture site at Sixth Avenue between Pine and Sherman streets across from Eleanor Park. It is just east of the new metal building that will house Albany Skateway when it moves in May or June.

The total cost of the skatepark is estimated to be $160,000. To date, the city has pledged $130,000. Half of that total is tax money and the other half is parks systems development charges. Those are fees collected from new home construction and earmarked for park development.

A number of skateboarders who are pushing for the project have contributed $5,000. The skateboarders raised their contribution through raffles, selling glow sticks and helping with bike valet parking at the summer River Rhythms concert series.

In addition, skaters raised money by taking part in last month's downtown spring cleanup.

Now Clark and skateboarders are asking individuals, civic groups, businesses and industries to help cover the rest of the construction expenses.

Major donors will get their names on a bronze plaque to be displayed at the site.

Contributions of materials and labor also will be accepted.

The materials needed include: concrete, sand, benches bike racks, drinking fountain, steel pipe, forming lumber, drainage pipe, rebar and reinforcement ties.

Help is needed with surveying, earthmoving, compacting, grading, concrete finishing, installing a drainage system, fabricating steel grinding pipe and tree planting.

Jane Marshall and Evonne Rutherford are coordinating the fund-raiser.

The new skatepark is being designed by Eric Dawkins of Talent, who has been skating for 24 years. He designed the skatepark in Portland under the Burnside Bridge.

Dawkins also has been instrumental in developing skateparks in Talent, Ashland and Jacksonville.

In Albany, his objective is to create a safe and smooth place for skaters. He plans to incorporate various concrete bowls, ridges, a pyramid and other street and freestyle elements to attract both beginners and advanced skaters.

"The parks down here get skated every day," he said. "Skateboarding is back in the mainstream in Southern Oregon. Before, it had the rebel, trouble-causing punk label put on it. Now you see 34- and 40-year-old skaters. And now that the public sees the number of people skating on those facilities, they are quick to step up to see that their community gets one."

The new park will be 12,000 square feet with outside dimensions of 133 feet long by 91 feet wide.

It will be all concrete. Eventually, the park will be covered but not enclosed.

Local skaters have encouraged the city to build a skatepark since 1990, when a group of skaters approached the city council for support and financing.

Cory Parr, 21, is one of those people who has been working with the city on this project.

"I found that there was not much of a skating scene here, so I've done whatever I could to help," he said.

Other skaters Tawnya and Jeremy McGonigal are anxious to get the park built. They said they now skate at the First Assembly of God Church on the Santiam Highway. "They don't kick us out and there is a slick curb for grinding."

Tawnya, 24, and Jeremy, 25, have attended a number of parks commission meetings to work on a design and set up fund raisers to make the park happen.

Stanford Smith

Husband and wife skateboarders Jeremy and Tawnya McGonigal of Albany pose at the site of a new skateboard park to be built on the former Veal Furniture property on Sixth Avenue. In the background is the future home of Albany Skateway, now under construction.

Corvallis is in the preliminary design phase for a skatepark.

The park will be constructed under the by-pass near Third Street, said Dan Eden, division manager for the city of Corvallis.

"We're going through the permit process before we proceed any further," he said.

The city council has allocated $115,000 toward construction. The money came from park systems development charges. Now the city is looking for $50,000 in cash or in-kind services to complete the project.

Eden said the city wants to break ground this summer.

Next door to the skatepark, Dave Kuntz is constructing the new 16,320-square-foot home of Albany Skateway.

The new building is more than twice as large as Kuntz's 60-year-old Albany Skateway rink at 725 Montgomery St. S.E.

The maple skating floor will measure 140-by-68 feet. Also inside will be a snack bar, video arcade and laser tag area. Outside, Kuntz hopes to open a miniature golf course and a go-cart track.

The skatepark and Kuntz's development will help create a destination recreation site for families. Across the street, Eleanor Park offers tennis/basketball courts, new restroom, a sand volleyball court, picnic shelter with barbecues, and plenty of grass for lounging and games.

To donate to the new skatepark, send checks to Albany Skatepark, Albany Parks and Recreation, P.O. Box 490, Albany, Ore. 97321. For more information, call 917-7769 or e-mail dclark [AT] All donations are tax-deductible.