P.O. BOX 1094 / ST. HELENS, OR 97051
City, State, Zip
“I personally have been hit by a car twice while I
was skateboarding and the second time was in a crosswalk. I skate in the
street because there is no where else to go.”
--Donavan R., freshman, St. Helens High
School, May 1998
Teen-agers in Columbia
County suffer from a lack of places where they can socialize and recreate,
and consequently have initiated a community effort to build a skatepark at a
cost of $200,000. We are writing to your corporation to request a donation
for materials and labor needed to complete the project.
business owners and the police have objected to various locations where the
youth have congregated. When a group of teenagers approached the St. Helens
City Council earlier this year about the need, the mayor shared that the
same problem existed when he was a teenager. Research demonstrates that
positive youth activities that provide structure during after school hours
and attachment to community are critical for reducing high school dropout
rates, teen pregnancy, drug use and juvenile crime.
In Columbia County,
skateboarders, bicyclists and in-line skaters resort to competing with cars
and pedestrians, creating hazards in private business areas and public
rights-of-way where the activities are prohibited. In February of this
year, a broad base of community members agreed to help the skateboarders by
providing leadership, funding, expertise, and energy to complete the
skatepark project by June 1999.
The skatepark would
provide a positive youth activity that builds attachment to the community.
It would provide a safe terrain for the many people, particularly teenagers,
who enjoy skateboarding, BMX bicycling, and in-line skating. By leading the
project, the teens are building their leadership skills and ownership in the
project. The project structure provides a genuine example of
synergy-building collaboration, which is the primary goal of Columbia
Foundation. It also will increase the community’s awareness that it truly
takes a village to raise a child, and that Columbia County is rural and
personal enough to provide each child with the ability to make a
difference---if the capacity exists. This project provides the community
with an example of its capacity.
The skatepark would most
immediately serve adolescents in Columbia County but would also draw
skateboarders from other communities. The students estimate that one-third
of their peers skate and the number would double upon completion of the
park. A similar, but less elaborate, park at the east end of the Burnside
Bridge in Portland has become internationally known, has attracted
tournaments and related retail businesses. The Burnside Park, similar to
St. Helens’ skatepark, was built by skateboarders, is self-patrolled and has
remained almost trouble-free since it opened in 1991.
The St. Helens City
Council responded to the youth’s most recent request by agreeing to
contribute land and a portion of an assistant planner’s time to spearhead
the project, with the condition that the teens provide leadership. The city
Parks Department will maintain the park upon completion. St. Frederic
Catholic Church volunteered to provide help to develop a place youth can
own. Columbia Foundation, a non-profit formed three years ago to
collaborate with the city to build Columbia Center, a new home for the city
library, was invited to participate. The Greater St. Helens Park and
Recreation District offered its expertise, and private citizens got
involved. While the city of St. Helens had previously dissuaded efforts to
develop a skatepark, it elected to provide leadership this year, citing the
success of the community-driven Columbia Center project.
The Skatepark Planning
• Middle and High School age skateboarders
and in-line skaters, many who have traveled to parks around the state and
• An assistant city planner.
• The education/youth director of the very
active local Catholic Church.
• A local sculptor who guided the park’s
• The marketing/education director of
Columbia Technology Center, operated by Columbia Foundation.
• The director of the Greater St. Helens
Park and Recreation District.
• The executive director of Columbia
Regarding the skateparks $200,000 budget:
A line-item budget showing expenses and income of this project is attached.
Generally, it shows that the project has a private donor who has challenged
to match donations up to $5,000 that the students raise. To date, the
students have planned a Mother’s Day B-B-Q, a skate festival and clinic, a
car wash, calendar and t-shirt sales, and distributed coin buckets. The
adults involved in the planning have pledged to raise $7,500, through
fundraisers including a pizza party, hair coloring and head shaving. The
students successfully requested that the City of St. Helens provide a
matching donation of up to $10,000 in park system development charges toward
the community fund-raising. The project planners also have raised $50,000
in in-kind donations to date and are pursuing further in-kind donations
estimated to reach $31,000. This plan leaves a gap of $15,000 for materials
and for at least partially paying the professionals involved in
Columbia Foundation, on
behalf of Columbia County, sincerely invites your company to join in this
energetic, pro-active project, which is why we are appealing to you. We
hope you will share Columbia Foundation’s view that this project powerfully
demonstrates the benefits of community collaborating to build leadership
skills within our youth. When organizations with the influence of the your
company support lean, community-driven groups such as Columbia Foundation,
the result is an enhanced sense of community pride and confidence that
ultimately builds capacity.
Finally, I would welcome
you to visit St. Helens to view the progress of the skatepark, and ideally
to meet with the skateboarders as you consider this proposal. In the mean
time, if you have any questions of me, although I have never been on a
skateboard, I can be reached at phone number.