Young skaters will enjoy the Sisters park for years to come. photo provided
Young skaters will enjoy the Sisters park for years to come. photo provided

Construction of phase II of the Sisters Skate Park is under way.

Phase I, a large, deep "bowl," was completed last year. When completed, phase II will include an intermediate bowl, a backyard pool replica and a streetscape element, which will have railings, steps, curbs, etc. The intermediate bowl will have lower sidewalls and be for less-experienced skaters.

"Extraordinary!" is how Sisters High School math teacher Daniel O'Neill describes the students, volunteers, the businesses donating labor and materials, Sisters Park & Recreation District, the school board and the Sisters community in general in getting the first phase of the project completed and phase II under construction.

"This whole project is the result of a convergence of extraordinarily open-minded, creative and generous people," said O'Neill. "When we started the project we had volunteers from all over Central Oregon come help.

"SPRD trusted us with the project. Anne Heath (SPRD director) and the staff at SPRD were totally supportive and trusting," said O'Neill. "She showed extraordinary faith that the students could accomplish this."

Sisters High School students Scott Everson and Preston Ferris started it all three years ago. With help from O'Neill, Jerry Hollis, finance and development director for SPRD, and others, the boys made a plan and presented it to SPRD, the school board and the City of Sisters. They created a non-profit group and made it a school project, for which they got school credit.

When Scott and Preston graduated, another student and skater, Davidson Small, stepped in and took over the student manager role. He held fundraisers and wrote for and received a large grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation. Tony Hawk is a world-champion skateboarder whose foundation's mission is supporting and empowering youth with recreational programs that focus on the creation of public skateboard parks.

Sisters residents Bob and Yvette Chandler matched the grant amount. Sisters-based Robinson & Owen Heavy Construction asked if they could help. They did the excavating, donating the labor and equipment.

Liquid Stone Designs, LLC, a construction company based in La Pine, wanted to get involved. They poured, actually blew in, the concrete for a small fraction of the cost. Using Shotcrete, a special mix that is blown onto the desired surface using compressed air, they donated their labor and equipment. The materials were paid for with grant money.

Phase II, a more extensive and complex project, required bigger grants. The team applied for and received grants from Oregon State Parks, the Oregon Community Foundation, and got generous donations from many Sisters individuals and businesses.

For phase II the contractors, Robinson & Owen Heavy Construction and Liquid Stone Design, are involved from the beginning, which helps with design continuity and creativity and, as with phase I, they're donating much of the labor and equipment.

"Everyone we've been involved with in this community has been so supportive," said Lori Linville of Liquid Stone Design. "We're happy to do what we can. We're donating our labor and concrete pumping. We're allowed to get creative and, when people see the finished product, well, that will be good for business."

The Sisters Skate Park is located just west of SPRD's Coffield Community Center, on school district land leased by SPRD. There is no additional cost for the land or insurance to SPRD or the school district.

"This is a skate park built by skaters for skaters," said Jerry Hollis of SPRD. "These were mostly skaters volunteering their time and efforts to help make a dream happen."

"If any one of these parties didn't step up - the students, SPRD, the school district, the Chandlers, the contractors, the volunteers - this project wouldn't have happened," said O'Neill. "So many things had to go right. It is testimony to the positive attitude of the people in this community that, given the state of the economy and all the other hurdles, this project is being done. The difference between the Sisters community and most others is: we think about how we can make things happen rather than reasons why we

can't."