A charming little skateboard park is being developed at a spot where S.E. 16th Avenue and Brooklyn Street dead-end at the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.
Started a year ago by Colin Sharp and Jesse McDowell, the Brooklyn Street Skate Spot has turned a scruffy, garbage-strewn corner underneath a pedestrian walkway into a small but well-maintained skateboard facility.
According to Francisco, who is a regular visitor, the Skate Spot was built as a DIY project by about 15-20 fellows who volunteered their own money and time. They also had sponsorship from Southeast Uplift: 'We had a BBQ fund-raiser to help pay for some materials, and various donations keep coming in,' he explains. 'See our Facebook page for progress on the project. The train folks that go by always wave to us when they pass. It's great!
'The Skate Spot has made a big improvement to the area; it's done a lot of good. There aren't so many hobos, trash, broken glass and needles here anymore.'
A sign posted at the park asks users to keep the area clean, and respect the neighbors. Co-founder Sharp, who lives and works nearby, is the unofficial maintenance person. He paints over graffiti, removes trash, and has installed a decorative planter.
'We're still coordinating with the City of Portland, the Police Bureau, and the neighborhood association to complete all the proper paperwork,' says Sharp. 'Union Pacific owns part of the property, and the rest is part of a right-of-way. In the next couple of years, when the MAX line goes through, the bridge will be coming out. We don't know what will happen to the skate park after that.'
As for how this skate park came about: 'I'd been watching kids skate over the dirt piles there for a few years before we started the Skate Spot,' Sharp goes on. 'Last year I built a skate structure for my kids at home, and we used the extra concrete against an existing curb here as a start, to form a transition curve.
'Now there's a corner pocket with pool tile and coping, and several bowls and transitions. I'd like to put up a fence and cover up the dirt piles to the north, but we'll see what happens.'
Plenty of street parking is available nearby, and lots of spectators come on foot and by bike to enjoy the action. 'According to one skateboard magazine, this is one of the DIY 'favorite' skate spots on the west coast,' grins Sharp.
'It's a relatively small spot,' observes Francisco. 'I usually only skate here when there's up to eight guys, or else it gets too crowded."
A cement bench under a fir tree offers a covered resting spot, and a wall painting names the area as the 'Brooklyn Street Skate Spot'.
'One neighbor lady even brought her grandson here to skate while she watched,' says Sharp. 'That was great.'