Skatepark Fact Sheet
1. Who is building the skatepark?
The St. Helens City Council approved of the idea of building
a skatepark in McCormick Park on a site where the topography was well suited
for that purpose. The city is leading the project through the help of a
planning assistant who is very interested in the project. The city will
insure and maintain the facility. The project also is supported by other
organizations in the community including St. Frederic Catholic Church, the
Greater St. Helens Park and Recreation District, Columbia Foundation,
interested students, and a group of young skateboarders.
2. Will the city face increased liability by having the
Insuring a skatepark poses no greater
liability than insuring baseball fields or other sport facilities. In
addition, Oregon law places a ceiling on the city’s liability for accidents
that take place on public property, limiting the city’s exposure. The
skatepark will have signage explaining that safety gear is recommended.
3. Is the city using property tax money and general funds
on the project?
No. The skatepark is being built with private donations and
in-kind contributions. Several grants will be sought to help meet the
costs. The city has not pledged financial resources to the project.
However, if the city decides to match donations on a limited basis, it could
use funds that do not come from property taxes. The city would use “system
development charges” that developers pay that are earmarked for park
improvements such as a skatepark.
4. Why is the city doing this now, when it has been
Providing activities for youth has been a long-standing
concern for the City Council. The city recognized that a groundswell of
community support was emerging when St. Frederic Church pledged to assist
and especially when the skateboarders themselves agreed to actively be
involved in the planning, fundraising and construction.
5. Who will pay for maintenance and repairs?
The city, similar to its arrangement for Columbia Center,
will maintain the skatepark as it does other park facilities. The city
anticipates the community will be involved on an on-going basis. The
facility will be designed to need as little maintenance as possible.
6. What about
The skatepark will be made of concrete with steel used in
several skating obstacles, creating minimal opportunities for vandalism.
However, the involvement of the skateboarders themselves in the project will
build their sense of ownership in the facility. The skateboarders have said
they doubt their peers would be motivated to destroy their own skatepark.
Trash cans will be placed at the site.
7. What is the environmental impact of building the
Project planners are working to minimize
environmental impacts. Prior logging on the site has exposed the remaining
trees to wind impacts that threaten their long-term survival. Approximately
15 trees will be removed, either because they are damaged, block
construction, or would stand too close to the concrete for their roots to
survive. However, one of the priorities in designing the skatepark has been
to incorporate it with the natural setting. The site will be drained into
the existing storm water system. Milton Creek will not be impacted.
Construction will include a landscaping plan, which will ultimately improve
the current appearance.
8. Is the site too secluded?
McCormick Park is used for multiple
activities, creating regular traffic ranging from walkers to campers. The
city provides a caretaker 24-hours each day that lives directly across from
the skatepark. Park hours are dawn to dusk and you can’t skate in the dark
anyway. Columbia Center, which is visible from the site, is open six days
each week until 9 p.m.
9. What about other facilities needed by the skaters?
Restrooms and a drinking fountain are located across the
parking lot from the skatepark. A public telephone is located on the south
terrace at Columbia Center.
10. Who can use the skatepark?
The skatepark is designed to accommodate in-line skaters and
BMX bikers as well as skateboarders. Similar facilities built in other
communities have proven to accommodate multiple users.
11. Kids who ride skateboards are bad.
Get real. It is not reasonable to generalize about
skateboarders. They are no more troublemakers than any other group of
kids. Most of these kids are “mainstream,” kids who go to school and often
hold down jobs as well. They view skateboarding as an athletic activity
that requires a high level of skill. With relatively few activities
available to youth, skateboarding is a healthy alternative. Furthermore, an
unspoken culture exists among skateboarders about safety, and the protocols
of boarding together in parks.
12. A skatepark will cause more skateboard injuries.
Statistics show that skateboarding results in fewer injuries
than organized sports including baseball and basketball. Skateboarders
currently skate in areas not designed for that purpose. A skatepark
designed for this purpose will be safer. Skateboarders currently skate in
streets and parking lots where they compete with pedestrian and car traffic,
creating hazards. Boarding in public rights-of-way also leaves the
government agencies liable for accidents that may take place on their
property. The skateboarders are aware that they will be required to wear
safety gear in the skatepark, and they know the risks of skateboarding.
13. Will the skatepark become a hang out where kids will
congregate and do drugs?
Drug use is not permitted in city parks. Kids will
congregate no matter what, but providing an established, centralized
location will make it easier for police to patrol. Having the skatepark in
McCormick Park will increase the traffic in the skatepark, and lessen the
ease of inappropriate behaviors compared to more isolated locations.
14. Who designed the skatepark?
Guided by a local
sculpture studio, a group of skateboarders viewed the site and then used
clay to mold skating obstacles and challenges, based on their experience
with skateparks elsewhere in Oregon and the United States. The sculpture
studio then translated their ideas into a design, which the skateboarders
critiqued. After several revisions, the sculpture studio finalized the
design and built a model. Local surveyors, excavators, engineers and
contractors have offered additional expertise.
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