IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME...Four and a half years ago, Keizer police spent a lot of time chasing youngsters out of concrete business areas for skateboarding or biking. There was talk of new laws and tougher fines. Charlane and Steve Carlson took a different view. "We said, 'Why don't we build them a place they can go?'. Their hard work and dedication paid off Saturday, July 10, 1999, when the City of Keizer held the grand opening for a new 21,611 sq.ft. outdoor skatepark, the largest outdoor concrete park on the West Coast. The Carlsons sat stunned as the city workers revealed a sign naming it Carlson Skatepark in their honor, followed by a US Congressional Citation for volunteerism.
"We wanted to build something exceptional for the youth", said Steve Carlson, and they did. The initial idea was for a modest park of about 8,000 sq.ft., but then the project came to the attention of architectural designer Bart Bennett.
"He was obsessed", says Charlane. He pushed and tweaked and fought for more. And then he came out on weekends and evenings to help shovel gravel and finish concrete. First he added a beginners area, then one bowl, then another. Now the park has 2 pyramids, 2 bowls, a saucer, semi-vert walls, a halfpipe, moguls, ledges, rails, and stairs.
As the plans unfolded, Charlane focused on raising money. "The phone never stopped ringing for 3 years". The Carlsons obtained substantial donations of material and time from local labor unions (carpenters, iron workers, plumbers, painters,firefighters), contractors, and building suppliers. Steve's specialty is concrete formwork, so he served as construction manager. During the final push this spring, the Carlsons lived onsite in a trailer.
About 1,000 people from babies to great-grandparents showed up for the opening Saturday. As the Carlsons received their well-deserved recognition and dignitaries made their speeches, about 500 boarders, skaters, and bikers rimmed the park's edge waiting in 90 degree sun for the ribbon to be cut. Local TV and newspaper reporters were present, and a radio station provided music all afternoon. Food and soda were free, donated by the labor unions. The plumbers and steamfitters stayed all afternoon, saving many a skater from heat exhaustion with free snocones.
The definition of glee was written all over the faces of those using the park. "Mom, you won't have to wonder where I am anymore. You'll find me at the skate park".
by - Bart
Hey I just wanted to let you guys know about the new skate park out in Kiezer. its a really nice park real big its has: a large bowl and a small bowl a sort of pyramid complex thing with a spine on one end banks on the other and assorted other ramps on the other sides lots of ledges two hand rails and 2 sets of stairs real shitty concrete half pipe launch ramps for the kiddies and a separate smaller pyramid with a tit and some rhythms really good park most of the concrete is good except the big bowl and the half pipe those have a few bumps good for transition skating and street type stuff. People there are usually pretty cool except for all the little kids every where. It's also right next to the police station. It's outdoors, free, and all concrete. Right by city hall. Just thought I'd give you guys this info ...