GOLD HILL — A community skate park four years in the making — the Tom Fish Memorial Skate Park — will be celebrated with a grand opening today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the city sports park along Highway 234.
The event will feature skate demonstrations, prize giveaways, free hot dogs and hamburgers, and the unveiling of a memorial plaque for Tom Fish, whose parents helped build the new space in his honor.
Liquid Stone Designs, a skate park and concrete design firm based in La Pine, designed the park so it could be used immediately and expanded in various phases.
Coordinated by city volunteers and a community group dubbed CanDO, the first phase of the park was constructed by Dreamland Skateparks of Beaverton.
It was funded with more than $50,000 in donations and in-kind contributions and a $105,000 state grant awarded last September.
While plans for a Gold Hill skate park have been discussed for decades, planning began in earnest four years ago after the death of local skateboarder and musician Tom Fish. His parents, Peter and Jan Fish, spearheaded the project in their son's memory.
Jan Fish said her son would be excited to see a skate park in his hometown.
"This skate park is a very positive addition to the community, and it's something that has been needed for a very long time," she said.
"Tom was 10 or 11 when he started skateboarding, and I remember he was completely passionate about it. It's a very athletic kind of thing — I don't think people realize — and our kids in Gold Hill deserve a place to skateboard. They really didn't have a good place to skate before this."
Fish said plans are under way for phase two of the park, which was designed so skaters could skate while volunteers raised money for added features.
"It's a great addition to the skate park-scene in the valley," said Rita Allred, who co-owns Jack's Board House in Medford and is participating in today's festivities. "This first phase is more of a street setup, so everybody's really stoked on that, and it's nice that it's a memorial for Tom."
"Both my daughters went to school with him in the Medford school system, and he was a local kid just like all the skaters who will use this," she said. "This just shows that if somebody puts forth the effort and is totally focused, they can get anything done.
"Peter and Jan are the ones who got this going in Tom's memory, and they never got discouraged," she added. "They just kept on this path to get this done. It's a great tribute to Tom and a great thing for skaters young and old to be able to use."
For information about the skate park or to donate to the second phase, see www.firstgiving.com/gold_hill_skatepark.
To contact Jan and Peter Fish, email firstname.lastname@example.org.