When the City of Sherwood first applied for a grant to fund a skate park, back in 2008, they were among several Oregon cities to do so. Ten years later, most towns in Oregon that wanted to build a skate park — including Sherwood's neighbors Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville — now have one.
And finally, Sherwood skaters soon will be able to kick flip, ollie and grind on their home turf, because Sherwood recently was approved for a key grant to fund a 13,000 square foot skate park at the Sherwood Family YMCA.
"It's been in the works for a while," said Kristen Switzer, the city's community services director and skate board project lead. "There was a lot of involvement originally … in support of getting a skate park, and a real push to get it done (in 2008)."
Sherwood was turned down for a Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) grant in 2008. This year, the OPRD rewarded the city a $326,014 grant, which will fund 60 percent of the project. The other 40 percent will be covered by the city, and will come from the Sherwood Parks and Recreation Department's system development charges, rather than from the general fund.
"That was budgeted for this year, because we knew that we had applied," said Switzer. OPRD requires cities to fund 40 percent of all grant projects.
Funded with Oregon Lottery money, OPRD grants provide $2 million to Oregon cities each year. This year, the department received 42 grant applications, and awarded 18 grants. Sherwood's was one of the largest grants awarded this year.
Switzer called the application process "pretty thorough and competitive," noting that the city needed to go through the land use approval process and have the matching funds budgeted before applying.
The city also has plans drawn up for the skate park. It will open up the contractor bidding process in the next 60 days, and will break ground in late spring of 2019.
The need for a skate park in Sherwood was first identified through a parks and recreation master planning process in 2008. After the city's first grant request was rejected, Switzer said "money became really tight."
"We didn't have the matching funds to move forward with the grant," she said, but the city always kept it on the list of potential projects.
When the economy started to pick back up a couple year ago, the city decided to draw up plans and prepare to reapply for funding. The Sherwood City Council voted unanimously to apply this year and submit a land use application at a February meeting.
"Ten years ago, there was an incredible grassroots effort led by the kids in our community to get a skate park," City Councilor Tim Rosener said in an email to the Gazette at the time. "They collected 1,200 signatures and lobbied the Parks Board and Council. At that time we were not able to get the funding. Fast forward ten years, we have a path toward to funding, so it is time to move the project forward."
The new park is planned to be welcoming to skaters of all skill levels, with features designed for novices and advanced skaters alike. Switzer said the skate park will give kids a place they are allowed to skate, and provide a healthy, exercise-based activity option for the community.
"You see the skaters downtown, handing out at Cannery Square, it becomes difficult over and over to tell them, 'you can't skate here,'" she said. "And the answer is, 'well, where can I skate?'"