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Blades and Boards Meet Molalla Streets

          By Salena De La Cruz

It wasn’t easy getting people excited about a sport that many considered a waste of time. It wasn’t easy reminding skaters that gave the park a bad name that this was for them. It wasn’t easy getting people involved in the Molalla Skate Park, but after three and a half years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance, we busted out from behind the signs that read, “No rollerblading/skateboarding.”

 June 24, 2000, the Molalla Skate Park became a park to stand next to the growing number of parks already in Oregon, and the growing number of parks to come. Molalla, Oregon is a small community of a little more than 5,000 people. It's just 20 minutes south of Oregon City. And until the park was opened up was only known for the Molalla Buckaroo Rodeo. However, there were a small group of skaters that had a dream of having a skate park in town. They had a dream that they would quit being told where they could and could not skate.

So the story begins:

SkatePark Investors started in May 1997 to set up a proposal to get a skate park in the Molalla area. After 3 1/2 years of hard work and skate competitions it was a success. The only person presently involved in this group is myself, Salena De La Cruz, I started the group when I was approached by five young rollerbladers, my little brother included, to see what we could do to get a skate park in Molalla.
 In May of 1997, SkatePark Investors was given the opportunity to help make a skate park in Molalla, by assisting local skaters and the City. Salena De La Cruz started SkatePark Investors to help facilitate the making of the park and so that any donations coming through were tax exempt for those businesses. She achieved non-profit status in September of 1997. She is currently CEO of SkatePark Investors and the only active member. She welcomed the chance to give back to a place she had called home for a years. Skate Park Investors has worked for more than seven years to help make the Molalla Skate Park a success by donating their time, money and determination. The funding for the park was through various donations and city grants. SkatePark Investors went to every City Council meeting to keep the skaters and the community informed of any new developments. We also had the role of mediator between the City officials and the skaters.  “We have worked in conjunction with the City of Molalla to establish a place where skaters can call their own and not worry about getting police called on them for various complaints ranging from noise to just good old fashioned FUN.” SkatePark Investors recognized the need for such a place and facilitated the contact between the city officials and the skaters. Though it wasn't an easy task, we eventually were able to begin construction of the park. With a lot of volunteer time, and energy the skaters now have a home to call their own. On June 24, 2000, the Molalla Skate Park opened up for blading and boarding. Though those dreaded signs that read "No Rollerblading/Skateboarding," are still permanent landmarks throughout the city streets and sidewalks we accomplished a small town's big dream. Maybe, someday we can hope to have all those signs a thing of the past.

But opening the skate park was just the beginning. Every year since, we've had a skate competition to continue to recognize skaters for their talents and determination. Every year De La Cruz contacts local and national skate companies and organizations to donate product, time, money or talent to host a skate competition. However, after three years of skate competitions the City asked for the non-profit organization to purchase a $1 million dollar insurance policy. Having not been a skater or ever been asked to do that before we were at a loss. So we were unable to have competitions for two years. In 2005, we finally brought it back home and invited the community to join in the efforts. For the two years we were supposed to have competitions I had given the responsibility to a Park Coordinator and she did not follow through with the dream. The skate park’s good reputation that had been built by SkatePark Investors had dwindled and I came back, from trying to fulfill my own dreams to a broken down dream.

The Problems:

After the park opened up there was a big battle over the location, and helmets. These are things that were already discussed in various city council meetings. The apartment complex across the street complained of too much noise, too many skaters after hours and things of that nature. Parents were worried because it was a skate at your own risk park and helmets were suggested, but not mandatory because there wasn’t a way to enforce it. The complaints have dwindled, but for months after the park opened up I received calls from the police and citizens telling me to keep an eye on the skaters or go talk to them about something or other. The biggest complaint is people are constantly riding bikes on the park and it’s only 7,600 square feet and not big enough to accommodate both bikers and skaters. We’ve ironed out most of these issues, although the bikers still come and cause problems. There are still the occasional delinquents who aren’t even skaters who come and make a mess, swear, smoke or drink and who are underage, and those are the ones who give the skaters at the park and the park itself a bad name. 

So in 2005, I doubled my efforts to get people involved. Although fewer wanted to be involved I was determined to make the competition bigger and better. I had to put in a lot of my own money, but it didn’t matter as long as the dream was kept alive. Although very few competed we had great entertainment and great prizes. We’ll be doing it again this year, and hopefully every year after.

Future Mission:

The group's focus now is to see that local skaters are recognized for their talents and make sure the skate park is properly maintained, so eventually we can add on to it and make it one of the best in Oregon.

Written November 9, 2005

Levi Hopkins
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Levi Hopkins, shown left, placed third in the Molalla Skate Competition and can be seen grinding.

Tommy Kenney
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Tommy Kenney, placed second in the skateboarding division of the Molalla Skate Comp.