'Picnic' benefits skate park, activities

Supporters of a skateboard park in Eagle Point hope the city's Memorial Day Picnic in the Park will provide the funds to start building the long-awaited play site.

Organized by a group of eight residents, the fundraising picnic is endorsed by the city of Eagle Point, and 80 percent of the proceeds will be used for the skate park. The event also will benefit children's programs including the Junior Eagles volleyball and basketball programs and the summer day camp.

Last year, the city approved $30,000 for the skate park, which has been renewed for the 2008-09 fiscal year. With an estimated price tag of $240,000, the skate park has a long way to go.

"We've gotten all the engineering and architectural work donated and done," said Gemma Marlia-Johnson. She and another Eagle Point mom, Stacey Harvey, have been working on the skate park project since 2005.

"It's getting there," she said.

Inspiration for the holiday picnic came from City Councilman Wyn Lewis, who chairs the committee organizing the event.

"We're private citizens putting on this fundraiser," said Lewis, who has lived in Eagle Point for six years. Lewis said she was "getting impatient" with seeing the sign that reads "Future site of Eagle Point Skate Park" in a lot adjacent to Eagle Point High School.

"I love this community and the kids here need stuff to do," she said.

Designed by Eagle Point architect Dan Horton with donated findings from Richard Stevens and Associates in Medford, the skate park site plan features handicapped-accessible parking and rest rooms, a water fountain, fencing, screening and landscaping. The park itself is an above-ground, prefabricated design by American Ramp Company that will be installed on a 60-by-100-foot lot that was purchased by the city in 2005.

"The City Council has consistently supported the idea of the skate park, and the police department has been supportive," Lewis explained. "The problem has been the expense associated with putting the ramps in so we've had to scale back our expectations."

Lewis hopes to obtain matching grants from private sources in addition to funds raised at the picnic. Once a large enough sum has accumulated, the park can be built in stages, starting with city funds that would be used for landscaping, parking lot, sidewalks and a pad.

"Then we could start purchasing equipment," Lewis said. "It's our goal to have the park open so it's usable by end of this fiscal year. We don't know how many ramps would be there, but it would be built and landscaped and would have some equipment."

Picnic in the Park also features barbecue, live jazz, lawn games, an art walk and wine tasting,

Jennifer Strange is a freelance writer living in Jacksonville. Reach her at jlstrange@hotmail.com.

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