Skaters try to sway HR Parks board

The local Skate Park Revival Committee ramped up its efforts this week to secure public funds for a redesign and rebuild of the park at 20th and Wasco Ave.

Led by volunteer organizer Julie Tucker, the committee held a meeting Tuesday at Hood River Middle School to discuss the many concerns and suggestions the skate community has regarding the future of the park.

"We have the potential to host national skate competitions that would coincide with the Gorge Games," said Rich Conway, owner of Obsidian Snow and Skate. "The potential revenue to the area might even top the Gorge Games."

Conway and Tucker agree that, while there is ample volunteer support within the community, the future of the skate park depends on financial and organizational support from the city.

The financial issue will be addressed Wednesday when the Parks and Recreation board of directors meets to decide how it will spend $120,000 in excess funds from the Ballfield Project.

Director of HR Parks and Recreation Lori Stirn was present at Tuesday's meeting and assured skate park supporters that the parks department is behind them.

"We want to see the skate park survive, and we're thrilled to have Julie come forward to help instrument change," Stirn said. "We're still in a developmental phase, and before any plan becomes official, we need funding and for the city to buy off on it."

The city will be asked to approve a plan that outlines a list of potential upgrades totaling more than $250,000 -- some paid by the city, some through fundraising. The immediate goals are to replace the mini ramp, install a sidewalk, repair the "vert" ramp, and secure the services of a professional engineer and architect by spring 2002.

Future plans include excavating the upper bowl and replacing it with a concrete bowl, and redesigning the street course. Plans for public restrooms, food service, lights, playground equipment and telephones were also discussed.

The first major hurdle for the skate project will be Wednesday night's board meeting, but Stirn sounded optimistic.

"The city and the parks department are very positive about this project and we want to see it succeed," she said.

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