BMX, disc golf have homes


News staff writer

July 16, 2005

Disc golf course approved as community project

Skateboarders at the Rotary Skate Park will soon have a pair of new neighbors. Disc golfers are moving in to the north. And BMXers are moving in to the south.

“It is going to b a beautiful community area down there with a variety of options for park users,” said Lori Stirn, director of Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District.

Hood River’s City Planning Commission unanimously approved on July 6 the site plan for a nine-hole disc golf course in what is now lot full of poison oak and Scotchbroom at JayMar Park.

“We’re pretty pumped about it,” said Mac Lee, a disc golf course supporter and operations manager at Full Sail.

Full Sail, Oregon disc golf’s biggest financial supporter, pledged to cover the costs of course design to help pay the estimated $4,200 in construction costs.

But the course, says Lee, will be a project of and for the disc golf community, which the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District will help facilitate, as it does with the skate park.

Volunteers’ first task will be to rid the park of the poison oak and Scotch Broom, a hardy and bushy plant that steals sunlight from endemic species.

The Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District and Full Sail have scheduled a work party on July 30.

The Planning Commission had reviewed the disc golf course’s site plan at a June 15 planning commission meeting, during which its members delayed a decision pending two developments: a new sidewalk and restrooms at the Rotary Skate Park.

“We said if you (Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District) are going to be bringing that much traffic to the area, you need to provide a place for the people to walk and a place for them to go to the bathroom,” said Hood River Planning Director Cindy Walbridge.

Two days before that meeting, Lori Stirn, director of Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District, lobbied to an Oregon State Parks panel for an $82,000 grant that would help fund those two projects.

Stirn said the parks district’s chances of winning the grant monies are hopeful. The district will find out on or before Aug. 6.

BMX supporters earn council’s nod to pursue course at skate park

Jeff Blackman earned the city council’s nod July 11 to pursue a winding, 840-foot long BMX course.

The course would start on the longboard course near Cascade Avenue and 20th Street and end at the Rotary Skate Park’s fish bowl.

The course would share the 2.7 acre Rotary Skate Park with the existing skateboarding ramps, bowls and halfpipes.

“We want a place where the kids can go, where they won’t get hit,” Blackman said in his appeal to the council on July 11. “What we’re asking for today is the use of the land. It’s already a park. We just want to put bikes on it.”

Now Blackman and his fellow BMX course supporters will work out a site plan with the city’s planning department.

When and if the city’s planning commission approves that site plan review, BMX course supporters can begin manipulating the earth into a recreational attraction.

According to Blackman’s preliminary development plan, the course would cross a non-fish-bearing stream three times, requiring three bridges. Blackman does not intend to cut down any trees.

“We’ll be taking away the poison oak and irrigating it for you,” Blackman said.

Before approving Blackman’s concept, city council members first wanted to know what the course’s hours of operation would be, who was liable if somebody hurt himself and decided to sue and how specifically, Blackman planned to harness the dust problem.

The Parks and Recreation District will handle the liability, Blackman told the council members.

The parks district already includes the aquatic center and the skate park under the same umbrella policy, says Lori Stirn, so including the BMX course under the same insurance wouldn’t increase the rates too much.

“There’s a certain amount of inherent risk when you participate in recreational activities,” Stirn said. “We hope to maintain a safe recreational and fun environment down there.”

The course would include a sprinkler system to minimize dust, Blackman assured them.

“I’m sure we could put it on a timer if we had to,” he told them. “But I don’t think the wind is going to be that much of a problem. For example, I just finished windsurfing on a really windy day and on that day, I went with Charlie Warren (the course’s engineer) there and I was amazed there was no wind.”

To ensure wind wouldn’t be the BMX course’s demise as it was for the course at the Port in 2001, Blackman said course builders would spray the soil with Envirotac, a substance track maintainers use to harden and stabilize the dirt.

“It seems like an ideal place to me,” councilor Paul Cummings said after Blackman answered the council’s questions. “It’s a place to keep and concentrate kids. Anytime you do that, it’s a good idea.”

If only the skateboarders believed that.

Adam Stolte, a 14-year-old skateboarder with nose-length bangs, points to the chips in the Dragon Tail and other ramps at the skate park.

“Bikers do that,” he says one day after the council approved the BMX course idea. “Skateboarders can’t do that. They chunk it up and when skateboarders try to ride it, they fall really hard.”

Stolte and the group of five or six skateboarders with whom he is sitting down here, says out-of-town trick-bikers come weekly, usually on Sundays.

“It’s kind of intimidating,” says Sam Wadman, 14, who is sitting beside him. “Because their equipment is bigger and has more metal. So if they hit you, it’s not gonna be good.”

None of these boys say they’d welcome the BMX course because they don’t think the course would keep bikers from riding on the skateboard park.

Another group of younger skateboarders said they would welcome the new course and believe it would minimize conflicts between bikers and skaters.

“I think it would be great if they came here,” said Zach Olmstead, 12. “So that way we have our own course and they have theirs.”

Coincidentally enough, Newberg’s 40-acre Chehalem Park combines a skateboard park, BMX course and a disc golf course.

The BMX course and skateboard park sit adjacent to one another. Parks director Jim McMaster says conflicts between skaters and bikers there are rare and minor in degree when they do occur.

“We don’t allow bikes on the skate park,” he said. “We also have a caretaker that lives out on property. Since everyone knows what’s going on, and there is some supervision, there is no problem.”

Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation director Stirn says bikes are currently allowed in Hood River’s skate park and will be even when the BMX course is complete.

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