Park district's new skateboard spot passes shredders' test

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE  - Skateboarders enjoy the new skate park during the reopening day at Evelyn M. Schiffler Memorial Park.For Clancy Gassner, it’s been tough to see the brand-new skateboard park at Evelyn M. Schiffler Memorial Park from the street and know it wasn’t officially open for use.

Yet somehow, the 19-year-old Beaverton High School graduate avoided the temptation that some other skaters couldn’t resist.

“I’ve been driving by and checking up on it,” he noted. “I saw some people skating on it. But they’ve been doing a good job of keeping people out.”

Until Friday that is.

As fortune would have it, Gassner checked on the status of the park, which was closed for renovations since March, on the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District website just the day before. He was pleasantly surprised to learn it would open the next day.

Gassner joined 15 or so skaters who brought their boards to break in the spot, many of whom were wearing short-sleeved shirts on the brisk but sunny Friday afternoon.

“I was pretty stoked,” Gassner admitted during a boarding breather. “I said, ‘I’m gonna be there tomorrow!’ ”by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - A family strolls across the new boardwalk that crosses a restored wetlands area in Evelyn M. Schiffler Memorial Park.

The park district reopened the 10.25-acre park — accessed through Southwest Erickson and Bonnie Brae drives and Berthold Street — on Friday with no fanfare, but much rejoicing among the skateboard crowd, not to mention many neighbors and outdoor lovers who have greatly missed the park’s beauty and features.

“No grand opening or dedication is scheduled, but we will do an event in spring or summer,” said Bob Wayt, park district spokesman. “For now, the barriers will be removed, and users will be free to take advantage of the park’s amenities.”

After its 10-month, $3.65 million makeover, funded by the $100 million park district bond measure voters approved in 2008, those include 252 feet of boardwalk; a 20-plot community garden area; a 250-foot boardwalk leading through a 2.4-acre wetland area; two wooden pavilions — one 40-feet in diameter and another 20 feet; two half-court basketball hoops, including an 8-foot hoop for kids; two playground areas with new equipment on natural surfaces and textures; a memorial garden area; and additional parking off the side streets.

“Reopening is significant for us because it marks completion ... of the first community park redevelopment funded by the bond measure,” Wayt noted of the 10- to 25-acre park designation. “We are pleased with the results at Schiffler.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE  - Mackenzie Wood enjoys the new play structure at Evelyn M. Schiffler Memorial Park, which opened to the public on Friday.

So is Melissa Riley, a nearby resident who visited Friday with her 3-year-old daughter Isabelle. She admitted, however, that the park’s nine-month closure “feels like it was longer. I’ve been waiting for the fences to come down.”

Now that it’s open for non-business?

“It’s fabulous. The skatepark is really fun,” she said. “It’s great to see all these people out here. The playground is a huge improvement. There’s a great area where little and big kids can play together.”

She’s particularly impressed with the boardwalk, which includes three, triangle-shaped decks, and the wetlands enhancement. Several log “snags” are designed to appeal to waterfowl and other wildlife.

“It used to be a bunch of overgrown grass,” Riley observed. “To have this as a nature preservation area is pretty special.”

Designed by Dreamland of Portland, the elaborately contoured “skate spot” — complete with banks, rails and stairs for all manner of board shredding — is the district’s first outside of its main Howard M. Terpenning Recreation Complex at 158th Avenue and Walker Road.

A skateboarder for about eight years, Dan Pitre, 27, came from Northeast Portland to check out the new spot.

“This is pretty sick,” he said. “It’s a fun park. It’s nice to change it up. A lot of my friends are moving (to the Westside) just for the skateboarding.”

Visiting Schiffler with her daughter Amelia, 12, and 2-year-old son Justin, Shondell Odegaard said her family has been chomping at the bit to get back to the neighborhood oasis.

“It’s a nice park. The district made some good choices here,” she said. “I think they’ve done a good job.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Hak Kim checks out a wetland area along the boardwalk in Evelyn Schiffler Memorial Park.

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