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.
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.
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