MONMOUTH — A formal agreement between the cities of Monmouth, Independence and the Monmouth-Independence Skate Park Committee was signed last week.
The document details how the three entities agree to share fundraising, project management and construction responsibilities for a new skate park to be constructed west of the existing Monmouth Skate Park, outside the S-Curve baseball facilities in Monmouth.
Brice Spreadbury, who has used the existing skate park since about 2016, is leading the committee.
He heard from a fellow skater that there had been plans to build a skate park in Independence years ago.
“Someone started the process, and I caught wind of that,” Spreadbury said.
He talked to Shawn Irvine, Independence economic development director.
“I approached it the same way as I do when any other community member approaches me — I said, ‘Pull a group of people together and let’s talk,’” Irvine said. “That’s usually where it ends.”
Spreadbury got about 60 people to show up for the meeting.
“I said, ‘OK, I think we might have something here,’” Irvine said.
The initial discussions were part of the parks and master plan planning process in 2105, Irvine said.
They looked at different locations in Independence, including near the dog park and at a park in a residential area, he said.
“I was out to lunch with one of the Independence guys and (the topic came up), and that’s when we kind of stepped in,” said Matt Johnson, operations manager for Monmouth public works.
The Monmouth Skate Park is starting to show wear and tear, said Suzanne Dufner, Monmouth community development director.
“We knew we needed to get in there and fix that,” she said. “We see it as a regional park, because it gets so much use. It’s right on the boundary between the two communities. It’s in a great location because it’s highly visible.”
Barbara Spreadbury, Brice’s grandmother, is on board with this project and attends the committee meetings.
“She saw this OPB special about skateboarding, talking about how it’s a facility used for everyone year-round,” Brice said. “It got her excited too.”
Barbara said she is an advocate for the skate park because it gives children the opportunity to get outside and exercise rather than staying indoors on their phones.
“The point now is we need to move forward,” she said. “So many people don’t know about this journey so far.”
Committee members and city staff took a recent field trip to the Lebanon Skate Park.
They met with Corey McEldowney, president of the Lebanon Skate Park’s nonprofit.
“He was pretty dynamic,” Barbara Spreadbury said. “Young kids need positive things like this. His group was very visible in the community. Doing volunteer work, raising funds and everything. We came away from that trip feeling very positive.”
Johnson said the city got an initial design from Oregon-based Dreamland Skateparks for $1,300.
“I love it,” Spreadbury said. “We had a design meeting asking skaters what they wanted to see. A big thing was progressions, so there’s, like, a little bit of everything for everyone.”
The agreement sets a tentative completion date for 2022, with fundraising to begin this year.
“I knew it was going to take that long,” Spreadbury said. “My outlook on it is, just take one step at a time.”
During the winter, committee members and staff from both cities met monthly.
“Then we got that agreement finished,” Spreadbury said. “Now we’re saying Monmouth’s our fiscal agent, so we can start fundraising saying where the money’s going to go. That was a big hurdle.”
Irvine said the money the committee raises locally will be “a strong compelling story to then put into a grant.”
The first fundraising event is a car wash on Aug. 3 at Les Schwab.
“We have the location, we have the design, we just need to start fundraising,” Spreadbury said.
The group will have a booth at the Polk County Fair and is seeking out other community outreach opportunities.
“It’s a really important asset for the community,” Irvine said. “We’re really excited to have a motivated group working on this, and I hope the rest of the community can get behind it.”