TRIB TOWN: Glenhaven Park debuts its concrete haven this week, with more to come

More than four years after Portland voters approved the funding for two new public skate parks, the city is set to open the first one this weekend.

The $385,000 skate park at Glenhaven Park, Northeast 82nd Avenue and Siskiyou Street, is set to open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.

The park actually is the second skate park to open in Portland.

A completely renovated skate park at St. Johns' Pier Park opened in October. That park was paid for through private fundraising by skateboarding enthusiasts and by a City Council general fund allocation.

But the Glenhaven skate park will be the first city skate park opened after Portland voters approved a parks levy in November 2002 that called for some of the money to be spent on two skate parks.

Portland Parks and Recreation spent some of the parks levy money developing a master plan for city skate parks, which calls for the eventual construction of 19 parks throughout the city.

'It's a really big deal,' Tom Miller, the founder and current chairman of the nonprofit Skaters for Portland Skateparks and city Commissioner Sam Adams' chief of staff, said of the Glenhaven opening. 'We are the first city, to our knowledge - actually, in the world - to truly have a citywide comprehensive master plan for skate-park development. It demonstrates to an underserved group that the city takes its charge, and master plan, seriously.'

And the city soon will be getting two additional skateparks - one more than the 2002 bond called for. The City Council last fall allocated slightly more than $1 million to help build the parks, in Gabriel Park in Southwest Portland and Ed Benedict Park in Southeast Portland. They are scheduled to be complete by late summer next year.

The Glenhaven skate park was paid for through about $215,000 from the parks levy, a $148,000 City Council general fund allocation and a $20,000 donation from Vans Shoes.

That donation funded a pathway connecting the skate park to the adjacent Madison High School grounds.

The skate park is 11,000 square feet, and features a 5,500-square-foot 'street' course and a 5,500-square-foot transition area. That area includes a 9-foot-deep 'peanut' bowl and a separate rectangular bowl.

The opening of the new park will give advocates a chance to see whether two groups of likely users - skateboarders and BMX bikers - can get along in using the facility.

Miller and others have expressed concerns that both groups should have a chance to participate in their sports, but that the two groups can't easily and safely use a single skate park at the same time.

'We'll sort of just wait and see how it goes,' Miller said.

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