By JERRY MCGEE
I sat in the audience at the last city council session and was deeply saddened as I listened to the Director of Public Works describe the condition of the Carlson Skateboard Park. He described it as unfit for use, even dangerous. He said that the experts recommended total replacement rather than to repair it. He said the cost would be between $350,000 and $500,000. This could consume much of the newparks assessment dollars. (incidentally I spoke in favor of a parks assessment)
I was saddened because I remembered the many hours that Charlene and Steve Carlson spent to make the skate park a reality. Charlene was the fund raiser and the political arm and Steve was the organizer of the work parties. Don’t tell me it wasn’t built right. Steve, through his organized labor connections, brought the top steel men from Portland, journeymen carpenters and concrete men from all over, all willingly donating their skills and time.
When the park was finished it was the jewel of the valley. It was designed and built to require little maintenance, but like any concrete structure, it would require some attention from time to time.
I decided to take one last look at this monument to volunteerism. So on Monday, July 24, at 3:30 p.m., on a very hot day, I drove over to Carlson Skate Park. I expected to see the park posted with danger signs or even fenced off. But what I saw were twenty (I counted them) young men ages from 11 to 17 on skate boards, scooters, and two were on bikes all having athletic fun. I talked to some of them. They said they came often to skate. They were aware of “bad” spots but they just avoided them.
In walking over the area I could see many cracks that could be repaired just as the Oregon Department of Transportation repairs the concrete on bridges (epoxies). Several areas would require more extensive repair. The entire area could be gunnited. The gunnite and smoothing would need to be done professionally. Filling the cracks with epoxy would be a good volunteer project.
I asked my new skating friends if they felt the skate park was obsolete compared to other such parks, a claim stated by the director of Public Works. They said they didn’t use any other skate park and that this one “is just fine.”
In my opinion the skate park is repairable and it can be done at a lot less than $350,000 to $500,000.
(Jerry McGee lives in Keizer.)