GOLD HILL — Construction of a street-style skateboard park begins this week after more than 15 years of dreaming, planning and fundraising.
The Tom Fish Memorial Skate Park is being built at the city sports park along Highway 234, just a stone's throw from the trails that local skaters such as Sean Grinnell have used to skateboard for decades.
The park's namesake is Grinnell's uncle and the son of Mayor Jan Fish and her husband, Peter, who jump-started the project after Tom's death in 2009 at age 28 from a methadone overdose. Grinnell has fond memories of skating with his uncle, just six years his senior and a lifelong skateboarding and snowboarding enthusiast.
"I think it's a really great thing just to honor the memory of my uncle, but more importantly, for the kids in Gold Hill, and it's another great addition to the sports park down there," said Grinnell, 25.
He said it will be a big draw for local residents who have few options for places to skate.
A skateboard park had been in the city's master plan since the mid-1990s. City volunteers, the community group CanDO and grant writing efforts by Peter Fish and Parks Director Rob Lowe helped net $50,000 in donations and in-kind contributions, and a $105,000 state grant awarded in September.
Liquid Stone, a skate park and concrete design firm based in La Pine, designed the park so it could be expanded in future phases.
Grinnell met with his grandparents and local skaters to help determine what the new park would include. He said they are all features and obstacles Tom Fish would've enjoyed.
Interim City Manager Dale Shaddox said a pre-construction meeting was held Monday and site preparation was underway by Tuesday.
Jan Fish, a former city councilor whose term as mayor began Jan. 1, said she was excited local skaters would enjoy use of the park.
Peter Fish said he was eager to see funding for two additional phases of the park.
"Looking back about three years, it was quite a preoccupation for us to make this happen. We had to find a site and we had to get the blessing of the city, get CanDO to hold the funds for us and then just raise about $150,000," he said with a laugh.
"It turns out there was nothing to it actually."
On opening day, Fish said he anticipates his son to be smiling down on the new facility.
"I think this would please Tom because this park has street skaters in mind who just like normal obstacles you find in the city, like stairs and rails and curbs," he said.
"It's such a small town that it's kind of amazing we have that sports park there at all. I know Tom would be happy to see that this is finally going to happen for the kids."
Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.