Excerpt from the Olympian Newspaper in Feb 19, 1978:
Skateboard Ramp Is Fun
By GRAHAM VINK The Longview Daily News
LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) - Skateboarders here, like most places, pirouette crazily, lean on curves like a Cadillac without shock absorbers and launch themselves hopefully into space. But in Longview, many practice their art off city streets, on what Parks and Recreation Department officials believe is the only municipally owned skateboard ramp in the Pacific Northwest. Opened last July, the heart-shaped ramp is located in a city park, vlanked by bicycle paths and tennis courts. The ramp, financed with about $15,000 in federal revenue sharing money, can hold several dozen skateboarders.
The 10-foot-high mound of earth accommodates two asphalt ramps which share common starting and end ing points. One, for beginners, is about 130 feet long with a grade of 5 to 15 percent.
The more advanced slope extends about 150 feet, with curves in two directions, side slopes of up to 60 degrees and a grade of up to 11 percent.
"It's not a real challenge to the expert," said assistant parks and recreation director Bill Gibbens.
"We're shooting at the greatest number of people." Construction came after city council members complained that young skateboarders had nowhere to practice, except illegally on a steep road in a new subdivision. When the ramp opened, it "looked like an anthill," says Duane Penttila, the city landscape architect who designed the facility.
But the neighbors across the street weren't appreciative. Shortly after the ramp opened, the City Coun cil was deluged with complaints from residents who said young skateboarders were practicing at 2 a.m., drinking illegally and swearing loudly. The council subsequently restricted use of the ramp to daylight hours and increased police patrols. Complaints have dropped, but city officials fear that next summer may bring the same problems. In retrospect, says City Manager J. Walter Barham, the ramp should have been constructed farther away from houses.
The relative lack of danger also eliminates a problem other cities frequently inquire about insurance costs. According to Barham, the ramp is covered by the same umbrella policy which protects the city's other playground facilities. So far, no serious injuries. have been reported, and no claims have been filed against the city.
Gibbens reports that almost 20 cities and counties in Washington and Oregon have asked for information on the ramp. Anyone who inquires gets a two-page fact sheet and plans showing the ramp's design.
"It's almost impossible to design a skateboard facility that is too difficult," said Penttila. "If you want to pull skateboarders off city streets, you must provide them with a challenge. Designing our facility was genuine fun."