It’s been in the works for almost 15 years. Now members of Gold Beach Skate Park hope to see phase one of Bullfrog Skate Park in use sometime next year.
Brad Wood stands next to sign at stake park site on Highway 101 in Gold Beach. An artist’s conception of the first phase is shown at right.
“I would hope we could say within six months,” said Brad Wood, president of the organization.
“We need a safe and secure recreational facility for skating to where they’re not hazardous to automobiles and automobiles aren’t hazardous to the pedestrians,” Wood said. “It gets kids off the street. There aren’t a whole lot of recreational things outside school athletics for kids to do.”Skateboarders in Gold Beach can hardly wait.
“I’m definitely excited. It’s been a long wait,” said 17-year-old Skylar Guffee, who says he’s been skateboarding about five years.
“I think it’s awesome. I’m excited. There’s nothing really to do around here,” said Jaden West, a skateboarder for about three years.
“The concept of a skate park in Gold Beach has been alive in one fashion or another since 1995,” Wood said.
“When it first started out it was kept alive by the Curry Youth Association. That was before it was Gold Beach Skate Park. They had a proposal for a 7,500 square-foot park at a cost of $75,000 – about $10 a square foot. Now skate parks are going for $35 to $40 a square foot,” Wood said.
“These guys give you quotes. If you don’t jump on it, in three months or so it could be a lot more expensive. We are trying to jump on this right now. The contractor that wants to do this for us, Jason Shomaker of Liquid Designs has just finished the skate park in Coos Bay and just making additions in Port Orford and helped with the skate park in Myrtle Point. He’s been a concrete contractor in the range of 15 years,” Wood said.
“We had years past, before we got our property, we were in negotiation with the City Council trying to get a parcel of city property. We had talked with them about putting it in the city park. There was a water table issue there. That area floods in the winter time. That idea got thrown out,” he said.
“Then we were asking them for a piece of land down by South Beach. They were against that location. It was too far out of town, with no real pedestrian route to get there, no formal sidewalk. They were worried about kids walking in the street. They were concerned about the condos complaining about it. That idea was thrown out,” Wood said.
“We beat our heads against the wall. They always said they were for a skate park, but we weren’t coming up with land from them,” he said.
“We were trying to negotiate a purchase of this land we have now. It was in an estate. We were talking with a bank. They were ready to sell it to us for $18,000. They were going to sell to the city or us if we were a nonprofit organization,” Wood said. “That’s when we initiated getting our nonprofit status.”
Wood said the time they got the nonprofit status, the real estate boom took off.
“The bank decided to take the offer off the table. They decided the land was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and they would put it on the real estate market,” he said.
Eventually that land was donated for the skate park.
“We got the land free. The skate park itself now owns the land,” Wood said.
“That’s where that stands. We own the land outright. We’ve got about a $2 million liability policy on the land. The land is totally surrounded by other private parcels, so we needed to get an entrance into the land,” he said.
Wood said the city granted the skate park an address on Colvin Street, the street between the softball field and the skate park land. And the city granted an easement on a swath of land it owns to the skate park.
“We built our foundation for our pedestrian handicap walk access across that easement,” Wood said.
Gary Fletcher of Gary Fletcher Excavation did that work for a deeply discounted $12,000.
“He gave us some of the labor,” Wood said. “He charged us a lot less than he would normally. He got a really good deal on the rock.”
The land, which contains Dean Creek, had never been developed.
“It had old growth blackberries down there. Dean Creek runs through the northerly area of the property, east and west. You couldn’t tell where the creek was there were so many blackberries and stuff down there,” Wood said.
“Gary Fletcher got his equipment down there and scraped all the blackberries off. He did all of that for free, three or four hours of excavation. We finally got to see where everything was, what we had,” he said.
That let Gold Beach Skate Park know what it had and allowed them to plan the skate park.
“Dean Creek is a watershed, therefore ODFW and Lower Rogue Watershed are very involved with anything we do in there,” Wood said. “It’s not a fish bearing stream. It is what they call a herptile - that refers to reptile and amphibian habitat.”
Wood said Dean Creek flows through culverts most of the way to the Port of Gold Beach.
“It comes out by the animal shelter, over jetty rocks, into the Rogue River estuary – nothing one would want to pollute. They (ODFW and the watershed council) are concerned with anything we do in there,” Wood said.
Wood said inside the city, there is normally a 50-foot setback.
“Our property is three-quarters of an acre. If we had to stay back 50 feet, it would make a large portion of our property useless,” Wood said.
“Years before I was president, Alice Taylor was president, eyeballing that land. They initiated a variance whereby they got approval to change that setback to 25 feet. Variances are only good for a year. Within that year, to keep them alive, you have to do some construction. We weren’t even close to doing any construction,” he said.
So that variance expired.
“In 2007, (Associate County Planner) Jodi Fritts said ‘If you want to reinstate this variance thing, there shouldn’t be any problem if there are no changes.’ We asked ODFW and the Lower Rogue Watershed Council. Everybody was on board, no problem, as long as they were kept in the loop,” Wood said.
So he recently resubmitted that variance.
“We are going to go down there and start doing some reconstruction. Phase one is not going to be anywhere near that setback. They just want you to have that variance in place if you’re going to have any kind of equipment down there. They don’t want equipment within 25 feet of the creek,” he said.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to bring that creek back to a pristine state – which it isn’t now. There’s big chunks of concrete that have been dumped over the years. Way back when that was a dumping ground. To get rid of concrete, they dumped it over the side,” Wood said.
“The creek is in need of cleaning,” he said.
“We want the skate park to be in a park environment. The blackberries, we’re getting rid of them. We want to do a lot of native planting in there, a lot of natural flowering plants,” Wood said. “Like I told Todd (Confer) at ODFW, I would like people to be able to walk down the creek and dangle their toes into the water. That’s what we’re leaning toward. We’re really wanting to go green because we want to incorporate a bioswale.”
Wood said a bioswale is a natural filtration system that filters water before it goes into any kind of watershed.
“Like in a big mall and a giant parking lot, it covers dirt and ground with concrete. When it rains, that water has to go somewhere. Asphalt and cars and oil dripping, they’ll cut a ditch around the parking lot and fill it with permeable soil, gravel or sand. They’ll plant it with vegetation so you hardly know it’s there,” he said.
“They’re usually putting vegetation on it so it looks green. At the low end, it can be a drain pipe where that water can go. It’s just a big natural filter that filters impurities out before they go into the groundwater,” Wood said.
“I have been told we can put that bioswale within that setback, so that it won’t be taking useable space for our skate park or our park setting. All the water off the skate park will go through the bioswale first, then go into Dean Creek to maintain water quality in the estuary. All of our board is environmentally conscious,” Wood said.
He said the bioswale is the skate park board’s idea.
“ODFW and Watershed didn’t come up with that idea, we did. They were really for that,” Wood said.
“There is a large portion of the community behind us or we wouldn’t have raised 40-something thousand dollars we’ve raised. But it’s been so long that anything has gotten done, they always think “Yeah, right. They’ll never build a skate park,’” he said.
He said it takes a long time.
“We’ve decided to go with Jason (Shomaker) here because he’s local, Liquid Stone Designs out of Port Orford. He’s a skater as well. He lives close by,” Wood said.
“Right now, he’s in a position, he has workers to start in on this right away. If we have to wait till springtime, he told us he would have to refigure his quote and the whole thing would cost us twice as much as he’s offering to do it now,” Wood said.
“That first phase will be this kidney shaped bowl. That kind of lends itself to the momentum you can get as a skater. You can drop into those and push off. You can just keep skating without having to put your foot down again. They do what is called pumping with your knees. Something about that kidney shape allows you to keep going, go to the top, drop down and get that momentum going again,” Wood said.
“This is going to be phase one. It’s going to cost in the neighborhood of $37,000. We’ve got $25,000 in the bank now. That’s why we’re going on a money raising splurge,” Wood said.
“We want him to start now and, at the same time, raise money to pay him off. We don’t want to zero out our bank account either. We’re paying our insurance, Nonprofit Support Services out of Eugene helps out. We retained their lawyer, David Atkin, for year-end filings you have to do. All these costs that are ongoing,” he said.
“We’d like to have a little buffer on the fund thing. That’s why we’re doing this big money raising. An anonymous donor has come forward and offered to match funds up to $5,000. He’s even gone so far as say he will do that on a quarterly basis for the next five quarters. Every three months if we can raise $5,000, he’ll cut us a check for $5,000,” Wood said.
“We’ve got a potential to raise $50,000 in the next year and a quarter. I think we can do it,” Wood said.
The board will soon have a meeting to discuss plans.
“I’m looking at a letter writing campaign to request funds and present the challenge,” Wood said. “At that meeting we’re going to talk about a community fundraiser.”