Most skateboarders are well aware that Portland, Oregon is a haven for those craving free, public, skate-able concrete. The only trouble in this outdoor skateboard paradise is that there's nowhere to go when it rains. And it rains ... a lot. With the closure of the city's only indoor park last summer, Portland skaters had nowhere to turn during any of the average 155 days of rain the city receives annually. The weather just got a little easier to deal with now that local skaters Jennifer Sherowski and Lance Normine are opening the city's first indoor all-concrete skatepark.
Beginning in 1990 with the do-it-yourself skatepark Burnside, Portland skaters spawned a concrete park revolution over the last two decades that caught on around the entire Northwest. Seeing the positive benefits of skateparks, and recognizing the need for a variety of facilities for the city's many skaters, Portland was the first city in the world to create a comprehensive civic plan for skateboard development, according to the non-profit Skaters For Portland Skateparks.
Passed by the city council in 2005, Portland's skatepark plan calls for 13 neighborhood skate spots, five district-wide skateparks and one central anchor park -- that's 19 skate spaces in total. At present five of these parks have been built and are open to the public, with several more in the planning stages. The one glaring omission in Portland's progressive skatepark program is the lack of any skate space that is protected from the elements. When The Department of Skateboarding -- the city's only private, indoor skatepark, which served the Portland community for several years -- closed its doors for good in August of 2010, Portland skaters were literally and figuratively left out in the rain. Now there's a reason for hope.
Commonwealth Skateboarding has its grand opening on Saturday, February 26. The park is set up in a membership style with better rates for those who make a greater commitment: $750 for year-round access, $80 for a month of unlimited sessions, or $9 for a single two-hour session.
Portland skate photographer and frequent ESPN Skateboarding contributor Garric Ray spoke with Sherowski and Normine about their decision to open a private, indoor park in a city full of other public, outdoor skate options. "The idea was spawned out of the miserable winter and how none of our friends were motivated to skate because there was nowhere to go with The Department of Skateboarding closing," Sherowski and Normine told Ray. "Everyone kept saying 'Someone should open a park.' So we figured, why not us?"
The idea to do the whole park in concrete came from the pair's connection to several concrete park builders in the area. "Lance knew he wanted a concrete element, just to set us apart from other indoor parks," said Sherowski. "Also our good friend Billy Coulon who we hired to design/build the park is a concrete park builder. That's what he knows best, so that's how our park evolved."
And with that, one more piece of the evolving Northwest skatepark puzzle has fallen into place.