‘Extreme Tour’ leaves behind a $10,000 gift for a Skate Park

Find out which outer East Portland park is next to get a “skatepark”, and how you can have a say in how it’s built, here …

After demonstrating some gnarly moves at the Glenhaven Skatepark on NE 82nd Avenue of Roses, Rocco Caravelli, says he never tires of skateboarding. “It’s great to have this skatepark close to my house in Montavilla. If it weren’t here, I’d probably be sitting at home watching TV.”

Story and photos by David “Grinder” Ashton
The high-flying skateboard and bike riders of “Dew Action Sports Tour” have now left town, but their sponsor, Vans – a maker of sneakers and sportswear – has again left a permanent mark on Portland.

No, it wasn’t graffiti or damaged benches they left behind.

For the third year in a row, Vans presented to Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) a big cash contribution for its skatepark project.

“We want to do more than just hold a commercial event and leave town,” Vans’ spokesman, Chris Oberholser told us on August 14. “We want to put our name on something that lasts. PP&R has put together a tremendous program to build skateparks, with the recognition that these parks are integral to the wellness of the community. It provides things for kids to do.”

Vans’ representative, Chris Oberholser, presents a check for $10,000 to Mayor Tom Potter, as Wade Martin, President of the Dew Tour, looks on. Check out the mayor’s cool, checked Vans shoes!

The event was held at outer East Portland’s first skatepark, Glenhaven, just north of Madison High School. “We’re proud to have had a part in building this skatepark by giving $10,000 donations for the last two years. And, we’re pleased to provide another $10,000 donation this year that will help build the Ed Benedict Park Skate Plaza, to be opened in the next year.”

More skateboarders than baseball players
At the event, Mayor Tom Potter greeted us and pointed to his checked sneakers. “They’re from Vans,” he chuckled. “It’s too beautiful a day not to be outside; it’s great to chill out and relax here.”

As we watched kids swoop and glide around the Glenhaven Skatepark, Potter remarked, “In Portland, there are far more kids who skateboard than play baseball; yet, we have many more baseball diamonds than we have skateboard parks. We’re starting to change that.”

The mayor said this year’s donation was going to expand the Ed Benedict Park Skate Plaza, located in outer East Portland on SE Powell Blvd. at SE 98th Ave. “I’d like to see skateboard parks in every neighborhood of our beautiful city.”

Watching local skateboarder Matt Gabriel do some of his tricks in the Glenhaven Skatepark “peanut bowl” – a deep, swimming-pool looking structure, he gets applause from the crowd. Donations by Van’s in ’05 and ’06 helped finance this feature at the park.

Says skateparks build community
Ben Wixon has worked with PP&R to help build their skateboarding program for the last five years. He’s currently an instructor.

“Kids need an outlet for their energy,” explained Wixon. “They need a place to practice their craft. More importantly, skateparks provide a space for them to hang out. It is a place of community. Kids are getting a sense of ownership out of it by taking care of it.”

Wixon says he doesn’t think skateparks will end the skateboard damage done to public and private property, but adds, “It sure helps cut down on it [damage by grinding], to have fun and challenging places to skate.”

Vans made two other donations supporting PP&R’s skateparks in both 2005 and 2006. The support of Vans allowed for additional amenities at the recently opened Glenhaven skatepark – the “peanut bowl”, and the path linking the facility to Madison High School. This year’s contribution will allow for the skatepark at Ed Benedict to increase in size by 250 square feet.

Youngsters arrive from far and wide – not to see the Vans check presentation – but to get everything from shirts to shoes autographed by stars of the Dew Action Sports Tour.

Portland system first in nation
According to PP&R’s Sarah Schlosser-Moon, the Portland’s skatepark system is the first of its kind in the nation. “In 2003, PP&R began an intensive process of planning for network of skateparks,” she related. “Our committee has developed a vision for a skatepark system encompassing 19 skateparks with a variety of features aimed at meeting the diversity of needs of Portland’s actions sports enthusiasts.”

Help plan outer East Portland’s new skatepark
PP&R is holding a Public Open House & Workshop regarding the soon-to-be-constructed Ed Benedict Skate Plaza project. Come review their design ideas and provide input into Portland’s first skate plaza.

The meeting will be held on September 13 in the Earl Boyles Elementary School cafeteria at 10822 SE Bush St.; 1 block south of SE Powell Blvd. from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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