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Scappoose skate park to recieve makeover, still won't allow bikes

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - When asked about the skate parks proximity to the Scappoose police station, one BMX biker said, 'It wouldn't be a problem if bikes were allowed.'Steep slopes and busted up concrete plague the Scappoose skate park.

The park's features are slowly chipping away and bubbles within the concrete are caving in, said City Councilor Jeff Erickson, who owns skateboard company Poolside Skateboards. The geometry of the ramps is definitely not rider friendly, he added.

But a new facility is in the works.

The Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks Inc. surveyed the site April 5 and will begin construction in early May. The main features of the park will remain in place and the new design will integrate the existing slopes into a more organic design to provide a smoother riding experience for skaters.

“We feel that the most cost efficient approach for this project would be to use the existing park as a foundation to pour a new skatepark over the existing features and slab,” Grindline contractors told the city.

The park faces other hurdles besides its physical condition, however. A current city ordinance does not allow bikes at the skatepark because of liability and potential lawsuit issues — bikes being larger and faster than skateboards or rollerblades. However, this doesn't stop local youth from pedaling the ramshackle slopes.

Bikers at the park said that they were excited for the new design, but complained about the close proximity to the police station, saying they're always being kicked out or threatened with tickets. The ordinance will stand with the renovated park.

Erickson, who has been skateboarding in Scappoose since he was 13 years old, said the bike issue needs to be addressed. He suggests the park could have different usage times for bikes.

“As long as you take the steps to be a good citizen, you have nothing to worry about,” Erickson said.

If the park were bigger, bikes could potentially be allowed said City Manager Jon Hanken, but, for now, “It's a skatepark, not a BMX park."

Currently, there is no official park or track in Scappoose that allows BMX bikers to ride in the way they'd like, practicing jumps and spins.

The dedicated funds for the skatepark renovation are $125,000. Although bikers may want a bigger park in a different location that could allow bikes, the cost of moving or expanding the park would be expensive, difficult and cumbersome, Erickson said.

The park's main purpose is to provide healthy activity to local skaters, he said. “If we improve the quality of our park, we will ultimately improve the quality of our riders. If you have a well done park that keeps riders active, there will be fewer periphery activities.”