Once upon a time, Estacada's first city park was just a dream.
Now, the city's Parks and Recreation Commission is poised to celebrate the five-year anniversary of Wade Creek Skate Park.
The skate park was the second major project at Wade Creek Park, which first opened in 2008 and includes a playground, restrooms and a picnic pavilion. The skate park was completed in 2012 and has since engaged a variety of people from Estacada and beyond.
"It brings people in from Portland who have heard of the park," Estacada City Manager Denise Carey said, noting that visitors will sometimes stop by City Hall to ask about it. "The (skate) bowl is really challenging, and it has something for all levels."
In observance of the anniversary, members of the Parks and Recreation Commission will host a celebratory event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 6, in the park. The day will include skate demonstrations, volleyball and horseshoe tournaments and a free hot dog lunch. Parks commissioners also will discuss future plans for the park, including an amphitheater.
Jae Chun, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, is looking forward to the event.
"The best part of party will be seeing great smiling faces," he said. "You can't go wrong there."
History of the park
Long before it was a city park, the area was home to the Estacada Timber Festival. Carey estimated that the pond was installed sometime prior to the 1980s to facilitate some of the event's competitions.
Once the Timber Festival found a new location, the area was home to a lumber company and later a youth center.
The city purchased the property in 2005, and three years later, officials broke ground on the new Wade Creek Park.
Carey noted that community members were excited to have the park.
"With the (Mt. Hood National) Forest, there's so much beauty around us," she said. "I don't think anyone missed not having a city park before Wade Creek Park, but now that we do have that, if we didn't have it people would miss it."
Carey also praised the park's central location.
"It's nice to have beauty in the city, and be able to take kids for a spur of the moment picnic," she said.
In 2011, city officials and parks leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony for the future skate park, which was the next addition to the area. Dreamland Skateparks designed the park, and the city received a grant from the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department to facilitate the construction.
Upon completion, the skate park covered 10,000 square feet. Additional elements that were created during the second phase of the park's construction were horseshoe pits, a sand volleyball court and sand play areas for children.
A grand opening ceremony for the skate park was held in May 2012. Hosted by the members of the Parks and Recreation Commission, more than 200 people attended the event, which included live music, skate and BMX bike demonstrations, volleyball games and a free hot dog lunch.
"(The skate park is) a great asset for the community," Carey said. "We're really proud of it. Before the skatepark, there were lots of problems with kids skateboarding in places where there was a lot of traffic and pedestrians. It's made a really
big difference to have (the park)."
Paulina Menchaca, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, appreciates that a variety of ages are engaged at the park.
"Especially with the skate park, it draws a younger crowd," she said.
Looking to the future
During the May 6 event, parks commissioners will have a booth to discuss phase three of Wade Creek Park.
Skip Haak, who is leading the commission's phase three subcommittee, said sometime this summer they hope to connect with a landscaper for a cost estimate and render-
ings for the amphitheater, which would be located behind the pond and adjacent to the library's expanded parking
Ideally, Haak added, funding would be secured by 2018, and construction would begin between 2019 and 2021.
Parks and Recreation Commissioners hope the amphitheater becomes a central gathering space for the community.
"The whole community has a use for it," Chun said.
In addition to the amphitheater, reducing the area of the pond is also being considered.
"We want to enhance the habitat, and create more of a natural stream environment with wetland," Haak said, adding that he believes the area has a lot of potential that has not yet been realized. "I want anybody — from people in the city to people visiting from out of state — to walk over to the back of the library window, and for their jaws to drop, and for them to say, 'Wow, I can't believe this is here. What a fantastic natural area.'"
Celebrating the park
Though many people are eager to discuss the future of Wade Creek Park, they are also grateful for what it offers now.
Menchaca credits Wade Creek Park with being an example for other recreational areas in the city.
"(Wade Creek Park) shows the possibilities of what we can do with our parks," she said.
Likewise, Carey believes the success of Wade Creek Park has been "the driving force behind creating new (parks)."
"As the city grows, we need to add more parks," she said. "It's an important part of being a healthy and active community."
Chun appreciates the opportunities for gathering and events Wade Creek Park provides the community.
"If you're looking for a good town activity center, Wade Creek Park is where it's at," he said.