News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Open House Oct. 29 for Mill City skatepark

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

Backers of a proposed Mill City skatepark are hosting an open house on Saturday, Oct. 29 to show off plans for the facility. The event runs from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Oddfellows building (Stewart’s Hall), 158 SW Broadway, Mill City.

The event is hosted by Santiam Kids and Tourism Effort (SKATE).

Organizers are trying to regain momentum that was lost amid the COVID pandemic and the wildfires.

“There was a lot of momentum going into 2020,” said JoAnn Hebing, a longtime member of the SKATE Board of Directors. “We have a location approved by the City Council, a wonderful plan drawn up by Dreamland, an Oregon-based international award-winning skateboard design firm, and we were well on our way to raising enough money to get started building phase 1, an 1,800-square-foot bowl. 

“Then COVID hit, followed by the 2020 wildfires, and then the school needed to use the site as a staging area during construction. We lost momentum.”

Also during that time period longtime SKATE backer and community activist Melinda Flatman died. 

“Melinda was a real force behind this project and so many other community efforts, like the annual 4th of July celebration,” said Hebing , who noted that there has been discussion of naming the facility for Flatman.

SKATE plans to build the skatepark behind the Stewart Hall/Oddfellows building in a city-owned space now used as a parking lot. The Oddfellows contributed $5,000 for engineering and design.

The skatepark project consists of three phases: an 1,800-square-foot bowl; an additional 4,200 square feet that includes a bump, ledge banks, a mini spine and a one-quarter pipe as well as additional security fencing; permanent bathrooms, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, landscaping and parking.

The facility is projected to cost $500,000. SKATE has $50,000 in hand and thinks it can secure an additional $50,000 in donated materials and labor, but Mill City is requiring that the organizers secure funding for the entire project before it can begin.

“Which means,“ said Beverly Thacker of the SKATE board, “that nothing can happen until we figure out how to pay for sidewalks, curbs, gutters and stand-alone bathrooms, so we are still very much in the fundraising phase.”

When completed the facility will be turned over to the city and maintained as a city park, Thacker said. No opening date can be projected because of the fundraising challenge.

Key reasons to support the project, Habing said, include the skatepark’s low maintenance costs, its benefits for active healthy youth lifestyles, the possibility of attracting tourists and the low cost to participate. 

Along with the fundraising challenge organizers also have been dealing with the rise in materials costs.

“The cost of materials has more than doubled since 2019, and we need more active members of SKATE,” said Hebing. “We need citizen involvement to make this dream a reality. The community has waited a long time and spent a lot of effort raising money and we are so much closer than we’ve ever been. I want everyone to come to our open house, look at the plans and bring their ideas, energy, and enthusiasm so we can finish this.”

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