Local leaders seek revision of Cottage Grove skate park

Eighteen years after the Cottage Grove skatepark was constructed on South Highway 99, several citizens are looking for the go-ahead to remodel the park that was originally built in 2004.

On June 4 locals Dana Merryday and Greg Ervin organized an event where Cottage Grove residents could grab a hotdog and then write a letter of support for the city to build a new skatepark. Those who wrote letters were then entered into a drawing for skate gear.

Merryday helped oversee the reconstruction of the swinging bridge on River Road and Ervin is a Cottage Grove city councilman. Ervin has also had talks with Cottage Grove City Manager Richard Meyer about the park and the potential project. 

“It was a kickoff event; the aim was to let the community know what we have planned and to take in feedback from the community. We contacted six or seven outlets. There were over $2,300 worth of donated items. If you showed up, you got your pick of items. Kids were able to get new shoes. We had boards and tires donated for a raffle,” said Ervin. “We know grants will probably be involved in this, whatever transpires. We wanted to see how many hand-written letters of support we could get. We ended up with 35 letters.”

The current park has gone through many challenges including vandalism of the skate park itself and several porta potty’s being set on fire. On top of that residents also say the park is in bad shape.

“I’ve lived here for 13 years and anyone who has been to our skatepark and understands transitions knows that Cottage Grove skatepark needs to be rebuilt completely,” said Cottage Grove resident Jason Enarson.

Merryday said he has seen some of the same energy around this project as he did around the swinging bridge project “because It’s an easy sell. It’s something that is needed and wanted. There will always be naysayers.”

At its current location, the park was originally designed to extend out to the corners of Highway 99 and Harrison, but the park was never fully completed to its original design. Some have suggested in the community a new location may be needed. Ervin says that may be a possibility.

Before funding efforts fully begin, Merryday and Ervin will help decide if a new location is necessary or if upgrades to the current locations are what is needed. If a new location is determined to be required, they will then look around different locations in Cottage Grove and then begin the process of what the potential new park will look like.

“I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up of any one location right now but there is definitely some research we are going to have to do. One of the big criteria is that it can’t just be populated by certain youth elements. How do you combat that? It needs to draw in adults, families, and all ages where a certain kind of societal standard is met. If it’s all there, then fights aren’t going to break out as much and vandalism isn’t as likely to happen. More eyeballs is better,” Ervin said. 

At the June 4 event an idea wall was put up where participants could write down their ideas for a remodel. Some of the ideas presented was a roof over the skating area, lights for night use, cameras, and classes. 

“If I had my way, we would have a complex. Have it be an enclosed building that has a foam and resi pit. It could be rented out for birthdays or events. So many criteria can be hit. We need something outdoors during the rainy season that is exercise related and is a community hub. Combine that with a shop and a bike and skate park…you could have camps. RC cars are huge. The RC crowd is 30s, 40s, and 50s. Why not do a rock crawl course?” said Ervin.

Funds will need to be raised with grants and potential business partners. While dreams are large for the future, the current situation at the Cottage Grove skate park is difficult and a new park could be several years away.

“The concrete is warped from poor drainage, the amount of room you have on top is limited (makes it hard to get around others). The fence always rips your shirts. The pyramid is not jumpable because you have no room to roll away. The bowls and spine transfers are difficult to hit properly because it feels like whoop-de-doos going through it,” Enarson continued. 

While the wait for a new park might be long, Merryday and Ervin know that the proper steps are needed in order to not repeat the mistakes of the current park.

“The primary thing is regulation and funding. It also can’t just be a thing where we build it and just walk away. There needs to be some sort of organization in place, wither it be a nonprofit or a board that’s going to oversee it. If there is an issue we have got to sit down and do a pow wow and work it out,” Merryday added.