Ifyou build part of it, they will still come

Published on Thu, May 5, 2005 by ack Kintner

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If you build part of it, they will still come

By Jack Kintner

If you build it, so the saying goes, they will come. With Blaine’s new skate park, however, they’ve been showing up by the dozens before it’s completely built. The official opening is still almost two months away, an afternoon of demonstrations and competition set for the Fourth of July weekend, but supporters point to the dozens of young people hanging out at the facility just east of the Blaine library as evidence that it’s a project that is not only meeting a local need but is worthy of the nearly $100,000 in public support shown thus far.
Dori Binder, treasurer of the board of the Blaine Extreme Sports Club, said that the group has raised “a little over $52,000 as of May 5” in efforts that go back several years. Added to that, Binder said, is another $40,000 in donated work and material by local contractors, many of whom have brought heavy equipment to the site to excavate the area, haul off dirt, pave the park and fence it.

Binder’s group had their best fundraising effort a year ago last November, when they raised $3,500 at a fall auction. Their fourth annual garage sale, which they hope will raise about $2,000, is coming up on May 14 and 15 in the Blaine middle school gym.
Additionally, local individuals have weighed in, the largest single donation coming from an anonymous Birch Bay donor who happened by last August.

“She talked with [Blaine policeman] Jon Landis and others who were pouring the 9,200 square foot concrete pad for the park and asked about it, what was needed and so on. Jon gave her a figure and the next day she dropped off a check for $10,000.” Five other local individuals and businesses gave $1,000, and one couple, Doug and Louise Connelly, added a $5,000 matching grant to stimulate even more cash donations.

Although it’s already seeing heavy use, Binder said that there’s about $30,000 in additional expenses needed to be ready for the grand opening. “We still need lighting, rest rooms, a drinking fountain and landscaping, and we want to set aside funds for on-going maintenance,” Binder said, adding that the Blaine parks department has “adopted” the park into their system and will help with access to local utilities.

The design of the park’s various ramps and halfpipes has gone through an evolution, beginning with an innovative plan by local pro BMX rider Andrew Ryser. Volunteers Landis gathered, including Chris Freeman and Blaine high school’s construction class, taught by Jim Rasar, built three sets of ramps by a more modest and straightforward design that Landis found on the internet, producing among others a four-foot halfpipe with a combination spine, roll-in and bank and grind boxes.

“We’re trying to be really careful with what we’re building so the design always flows for the riders,” Binder said, “plus we build in stages as we have money. Andrew [Ryser] and the other kids know how to build in a flow to the various ramps because they’re riders and know what works.” Ryser’s 12-foot wall ramp and pyramid combination rises out of the park’s southwest corner, towering over the other structures like thrill rides at a theme park while providing a raised vantage point from which to watch the action.

Ryser, owner of Border Jumpers BMX, has been working on his part in the ramp building part of the project for several weeks to a design more inside his head and a product of his skill, artistry and experience than something written down. “It’s important to everyone that Blaine’s skate park be a place that attracts and challenges good riders,” Landis said, “so including design elements from a pro rider and the other kids, too, helps a lot, like having a good golfer design a new course.”

For example, Ryser said that “it’s good that we’re using wood for the ramps, as opposed to concrete like Bellingham has done,” Ryser said, “because this process of considering different designs, building something and then changing it never stops. We’ll always be able to modify what we have, which is important.” Bellingham’s skate park, located near Civic Field, is only a few hundred square feet larger than the Blaine park.

Landis began the Blaine Extreme Sports Club thee years ago after talking with middle and elementary school students. One of the first underwriters to jump on board was the Tony Hawk Foundation, whose $5,000 grant provided “serious money to get us launched and on our way,” Landis said. Hawk, who turns 37 in a week, was a pioneer skate boarder growing up in southern California and has been a perennial world champion. “We hope to have him show up for our grand opening,” said Landis, “but in the meantime that kind of support really has helped.”

Landis is board president of Blaine Extreme Sports, which gained official non-profit status a year after its founding. More information is available on the club website, www.extremesportsclub.org, which has been designed by Jason Otterstad.

For pick-up of materials donated to the garage sale (no mattresses, and no over-stuffed furniture not in nearly new condition), contact Landis at jlandis@cityofblaine.com or Dori Binder at 371-5038 or 734-6784.