A lesson in persistence: Silverton skatepark’s first phase funded

June 2012 Posted in Community, Sports

By Kristine Thomas

Jason Franz said there were fleeting moments in his nine-year quest to build a skateboard park in Silverton in which he was ready to throw his hands up in frustration and quit.

“I never thought it would take 10 years to build a skateboard park,” he said. “When I started, I thought it was a three- to five-year project.”

When he started the process, Franz said he was a newcomer both to Silverton and to understanding how government works both at a local and state level. Each meeting he attended, whether it was with a local businessman promising land or local government officials, he learned he had yet another obstacle to clear or another setback to overcome.

When there were fleeting moments in which he wanted to give up, he reminded himself quitting was not an option.

“This community needs a skateboard park,” Franz said. “Call it passion, will or desire – whatever you want to call it – I was determined to get something done.”

On June 18, Franz learned his “pipe dream” would finally become a reality when the Silverton City Council approved funding for the skateboard park to be built on city property near the Silverton Senior Center.

Steve Kay, the city’s community development director, said the first phase of the skateboard is estimated to cost $307,214, with funds from a $5,000 Tony Hawk Grant; $230,000 from Oregon Parks and Recreation Department; $14,073 in community donations and $58,141 from the city park and recreation system development charges fund. The estimated cost to complete the park is $450,000, Franz said, adding that he plans to work with local skateboarders to fundraise this summer at First Friday, the Homer Davenport Community Festival and the Silverton Fine Art Festival.

The skateboard park is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2013, and Franz said he hopes businesses and individuals will pledge their support either financially or by volunteering.

The owner of the Fall Line skate, board and bike shop, Franz said he is amazed how much time has passed since the dream began. He is watching kids who then were in junior high that are now in their 20s.

And, he said, it’s because individuals put their trust in him and believed in him that he persevered.

“I hope I taught the kids that you need persistence and patience to see something through,” he said. “Too often people easily give up on stuff instead of finding a way to make it work. Seeing this project through to the finish is a huge lesson for these kids. They learned to keep going no matter how tough it gets.”

Franz, 37, said when he first opened his shop nine years ago, his goals, in order, were to build a skateboard park, then a BMX track and lastly a mountain bike trail.

He laughs at the irony that the projects were accomplished in the reverse order. The mountain bike trail at Shellburg Falls was completed first, then the BMX track at Rogers Wayside County Park, and the skateboard park is still to come.

“It is important to note that this is a much-needed project, which will benefits good kids in the community,” Kay said.

Franz said now when he talks about the skateboard park, he can say it’s going to finally happen. What kept him motivated during the quest, he said, is that basically he’s a kid at heart.

“I wanted a place close by that I could go and skateboard,” he said. “I hope everyone who has worked with me on this project realizes it does pay to invest in something and to do something that benefits your community.

“I want to thank everyone who believed in me and stuck with me through this project for the last nine years. I have learned a lot along the way, and it feels good to finally see it happen.”

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