A Long Overdue Update

Hello my lovely friends and supporters of Stronger Skatepark. I want to start this update by apologizing for my long absence. It is difficult to sit down and write updates when I don’t have much to share. I’m still here looking for spaces. I’ve looked at several, one was far too small, one the landlord didn’t want our use, and the other is still a possibility though the rent is very high and we need to get creative if we are to use that space. 

In the time that it’s has taken to work on this vision I’ve done a lot of soul searching, and right now I’m very certain that this is still my life's work. I want a skatepark as much as you, probably more. A place to consistently participate in the activity that brings me unending joy is nothing short of a dream come true. 

The more I learn about business, real estate, and government regulations the more I see how naive I was to measure this process in months rather than years. It has now been a year since I have started the building search in earnest. I’ve learned all the locations that we will not be allowed to be in, including all warehouse space in Portland, which is where I had hoped to open in my original business plan. 

It has been strenuous for me to attend public events due to the fact that I have no news to share other than, “I’m still looking.” It hurts every time I have to face a hopeful supportive person and say “I still don’t know when we will be open.” But I get to follow that up with “I’m not giving up!” 

I hope you will continue to support me, your comments and encouragement are what keeps me going though the long days and anxious nights. Your support sustains me as I continue forward after each unsuccessful turn. 

I lay awake at night dreaming of the ways I can make an amazing place for the community, from the programs and classes, to the ramp design, to the clean bathrooms. No detail has been spared from the working of my detailed imagination. I can not wait until I can make it all real and see the satisfied faces of veteran and first time riders alike as they enjoy what we’ve worked so hard for. 

Thank you for your ongoing support of my efforts, expect to see me on social media more often sharing skateboarding related content. Please email or PM me with anything you’d like shared on our account, that kickflip you landed for the first time, or an upcoming contest, anything skateboarding, bmx, and yes, scooting related is welcomed. 

Stay Strong, 

Allison Waters
 

Stronger Skatepark Needs YOU!

Happy New Year and I hope everyone had an excellent holiday season. I’m still working at bringing a new indoor skatepark to the Portland area and want to bring you an update and ask for some help for the community! 

The building search has been harder than I ever imagined it would be, but I’m not one to give up easily, and I’m not one to do things halfway. Because of that I’ve learned a lot about the building and zoning codes in the State of Oregon and in the various cities I’ve been looking at. We are still in talks with the owners of a building in Oregon City, but it is going slowly and I hope to hear back from them soon. I didn’t imagine Oregon City as an option at the outset of this project, but this building is really amazing and I believe would make an incredible home to Stronger Skatepark and be a bring some needed family friendly retail to downtown Oregon City. 

There is a very real chance this building won’t work out and I’m aware of that. Thats where you can help. I need more eyes looking for possible locations for Stronger Skatepark. The challenging part of this is that any potential buildings need to be already approved for an “Assembly Use” according to the state occupancy code. We simply can not afford to do a change of occupancy at the outset of the park unless the building owner is able to pay for the needed safety upgrades to the building. The types of buildings this includes are restaurants, gyms, theaters, schools, churches, bowling alleys, and other recreational facilities. The buildings we CAN NOT use are retail stores, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities, unless they have already gone through a change of occupancy and have been approved for assembly use. 

In the past many parks and ramps in Portland have opened up in retail or warehouse spaces illegally and I think that’s one of the beautiful parts of skate culture, we make due with what we can. Portland is home to Burnside, one of the greatest DIY victories in skate history! But ongoing DIY spaces like Burnside are the exception. We learned that again in 2016 with the loss of the lower freddies DIY. In 2016 we also lost The Grotto and the Trusty Bowl (former D.O.S). I’m missing these spots as much as anyone as this long cold winter carries on.  

In 2017 I hope to see more parks and spots open than close, including Stronger. I’m planning on Stronger Skatepark being an important part of the skate community in Portland for a decade or more! That means we need to do this park by the books and it’s easier to do that at the start than it is to try and get up to code later. 

If we can find a building that is already approved for our use we will be able to get in and start building the park right away, only needing to do minimal upgrades to the building itself. With more eyes looking for these types of spaces I hope to find our home sooner. If you have an idea of a building send some info and the address to contact@StrongerSkatepark.com. If your information allows us to find a space we will give you a one year membership to Stronger Skatepark as our way of saying thanks! 

The entire idea behind Stronger Skatepark is to strengthen our skate community by working together, Together we are Stronger! Let’s start that today by keeping our eyes peeled for any large spaces that could be the new home for our park and our community! 

-Allison Waters

Below is a screen shot from the state building code of what is considered an A-3 use. Any buildings that are currently or were recently used for these types of businesses are the type of building we need to move into to avoid hundreds of thousands in expenses relating to a change of occupancy. 

Building Search is Ongoing (and other updates)!

It may not look like much is happening with Stronger Skatepark right now, but it is! I have been searching for buildings non-stop since summer and I'm still looking! In the process I learned that my original plan for opening up in a warehouse space in Portland was not viable due to the strict occupancy laws in place in the city. If we were to open in a warehouse we wold be required to preform seismic upgrades that would cost approximately $100,00-$200,000. This is simply not viable for a new business of this size. That is why we've expanded our search to the entire Portland Metro Area. There are still some possible buildings in Portland proper, but they are just limited to spaces already approved for our use becuase of this law. 

A space we are currently looking into renting in in Inner SE Portland! This building is home in an indoor soccer field, meaning it fits the type of space we would most likely be approved to be in! 

A space we are currently looking into renting in in Inner SE Portland! This building is home in an indoor soccer field, meaning it fits the type of space we would most likely be approved to be in! 


I'm currently looking into buildings in Portland, Milwakie, and Oregon City. The most important detail though, I am NOT giving up. I am doing everything but giving up. Stronger Skatepark is my dream and I'm an utterly determined person. I do not give up when the going gets tough, I just get more creative. So bear  with me, becuase eventually this park will be open! We may sign a lease next week, or it may take a few more months, but from the time we gain access to the space it should be 4-8 weeks until we are open. It is happening. Stronger is coming. Don't loose faith! 

In the meantime I'm supporting skateboarding in other ways. We sponsored Exposure, the Largest Woman's skate contest in the world. And thanks to support from some friends I was able to get down there myself and make some great connections that are already proving very helpful in this process of starting an indoor park. I met so many amazing people and shared my vision with many of them.  


I also got to skate some fantastic parks when I was there, but the one I was most excited to visit was Academy Skatepark, as they are very similar to what I will be doing here. They have a clean, fun park thats a blast to skate across all ability levels. I was really inspired to see what they were able to do with their space! 

I've also been able to loan out our Stronger Skatepark portable ramps to various groups around the city including Skate Like a Girl and Portland Parks and Rec! Our ramps were used during the a skateboarding halftime event at the Roller Derby International Championships that took place right here in Portland earlier this month! How cool is that? Expect to see our ramps at more events in the future! 

Please remember, the reason there aren't more indoor parks in Portland are becuase so many give up when it gets hard. I'm not giving up. I live for skateboarding and my life's work is to start this park. I'm not giving up on this, please don't give up on me.  Stay Strong. 

- Allison

Don't forget the humanity behind the project, myself, Allison Waters. 

Don't forget the humanity behind the project, myself, Allison Waters. 

What's Next For Stronger Skatepark?

Stronger Skatepark has come a long way since forming an LLC and searching for funding back in March. I've secured half of my funding goal, ran an unsuccessful Kickstarter, several successful events, and started building a community. We will not be able to stay on our original and most hopeful timeline due to the outcome of the Kickstarter, but we have learned though the process that this is something Portland needs and wants. Countless individuals have expressed their support, and both myself and my husband are more committed to this than ever. I have a ramp designer and a graphic designer who are both excited about the project and want to keep moving forward with me. We are moving forward. 

I revisited the business plan and timeline and am now working on a revised timeline that has us opening by the end of the year. I have to respect the plans and schedules of everyone involved which means we can not build our ramps until November. We are currently looking at prospective locations, with the goal of signing a lease in October, with the shop build out beginning immediately and the park buildout happening in November. As soon as the park is safe to skate we will start holding soft-opening events. If you want to be sure you get to skate during the soft-opening make sure you select that as your perk on our Indiegogo campaign

Here is our updated Timeline:

In the meantime I'm not slacking off. We just ran an awesome skate contest in partnership with Portland Parks and Recreation. All the participants had a great time and pushed themselves to try new tricks! These kinds of community building events are a huge reason why I was inspired to start Stronger Skatepark in the first place. I'm currently looking at the feasibility of another contest in the near future. In my limited spare time I'm taking on-line business classes to help me become more proficient in the areas in which I have the least experience. 

My first time running a skate contest, it was a great time for everyone! 

My first time running a skate contest, it was a great time for everyone! 


I'm also reworking the business plan and seeking more funding for the park. I'm currently reaching out to select companies that I believe embody similar values to Stronger Skatepark. I'm hoping to find a handful of founding partners to help get the park off on the right foot through monetary or in-kind  support. 

I'm also working on clarifying our guiding values. Having clear values helps us make decisions about how to use business resources most effectively, as well as showing the community what we care about. 

Stronger Skatepark Values:

  • People First - People are more valuable than all else and all people are deserving of respect. 
  • Radical Inclusion - Including creating safe spaces within the skate community for otherwise underserved groups. 
  • Community Building - Through events and programing and providing a safe space to practice skateboarding and other action sports. 
  • Self-Ownership - Each person belongs to themselves, an individual has full sovereignty over their own body and decisions.
  • Authenticity - Individuals should always be supported in being true to themselves. Stronger Skatepark seeks to stay true to its values while supporting individuals as their true selves.
  • Self-Expression - Each individual should be free to express themselves in any ways that don't bring harm to another individual or another individual's property.
  • Excellence - We are striving to do all at the highest quality possible given the resources at hand. 

As we move forward in developing Stronger Skatepark I will be using these values to guide what we choose to do and to not do. Our ultimate goal will always be to build individuals and the community though skateboarding and other action sports. Our values will drive us toward achieving our mission here in Portland. If you believe in these values or think we just need another dry space to skate in be sure to support our Indiegogo today. The more support we gain now the stronger we will be from the start!

-Allison Waters 

Authenticity and Advertising

Little is as important to me as authenticity, and in case you haven't noticed, we haven't plugged a whole lot of products. In fact we've done no official advertising for any companies yet. I've only accepted product donations from companies that pass my internal authenticity filter. 

That probably sounds like a lot of gibberish, but I feel like gauging a companies or an individual's authenticity is an important skill, one that I've practiced enough to be good at. Sometimes I have a problem of calling things like I see them, to the dismay of others who believe in what I'm criticizing. When I see someone who paints a picture of doing something for the good of others, really doing it to profit for themselves, I can't help but call it out. I can't support that. 

When someone is upfront with me about their intentions, and not putting on a show, I dig it. I want to work with them. Even if they say, "I'm doing this to pay my bills and it's going to cost you $500." Hey, thanks for being upfront with me and not BSing me. I've been dealing with more and more people over business stuff lately, and sometimes my BS filter is screaming "NOPE" at me and I just need to walk away. But when I can tell someone is being authentic, they have my business and my friendship for life. 

I'm writing all this to say, that I hope everyone understands the authenticity of the intentions behind Stronger Skatepark. There's a person behind this whole effort and it's me, Allison Waters. You might not know me, but I like to think I'm a pretty ok person. I've been told I'm kind, and that I'm "a real person." I like to think that when people say that they mean I'm authentic, becuase that's what I'm going for. I don't know how to lie. I've never been good at it. The one time I wasn't taking my vitamins as a kid, my mom figured it out quick. I was hiding them in my bedroom, and not that well. I'm not good at lying, I'm not good at putting on show. I am who I am, and that's what you get. 

In addition to valuing my own authenticity, I value working with others who are authentic themselves. That's why I won't be taking just any opportunity that comes my way. Even if it means more money for Stronger Skatepark. I feel like it would be easy to get some giant cooperate sponsor, but then the park wouldn't belong to myself and the members. It would belong to some company with more money than they know what to do with. I can't let my dream fall to someone who's primary concern is money. My first concern is people. Always people before profit. Part of valuing people means paying my employees and myself a living wage, but I believe we will be able to do that without corporate dollars. 

I hope everyone who is supporting us can come to understand how much I'm doing this as a labor of love. This is my passion and my heart, and my dreams are not for sale. I really believe that the community can fund this, both from the beginning crowdfunding campaign and through on-going use of the park and our programs. I'm already planning a not for profit to work in conjunction with the park to be sure we always have an avenue to fund sessions and memberships for those who can't afford the full price. I want this park to belong to everyone. It's starting with me, but I'm building it for you. 

- Allison Waters

The Motivation

I received two comments today on my Facebook page. Both from the same gentlemen. The first said "Good for you and your plan to entice scooter kids. Smh." The second said, "Stupid Marketing Shit for you to make a buck. This isn't about skateboarding" 

I'd like to address both of those and write about my motivation for starting Stronger Skatepark. 

I'll start with the second comment. 

If I wanted to make money, starting a skatepark would be near the end of the list. There are literally thousands of better ways to make money. Skateparks cost money, lots of it, and its very hard to make enough money to keep the doors open, even harder to take home a decent paycheck. If I simply wanted to make money I would be selling stupid shit on the internet. That's how you can make a boatload of cash without working too hard. Seriously, go check out Tim Ferriss and The 4 Hour Work Week. There are entire communities dedicated to automating your income so you can make easy money. Retail is not easy money, and skateboarding related retail is even more difficult.  

I believe I can do it though. I believe by combining a truly excellent facility with great programing options, a variety of session types, and unique events, I can not only make enough money to keep the park open, but also pay myself and my employees a living wage. Before that can happen, I'm pouring a crazy amount of my own time, energy, and money into this. I plan on putting upwards of $20,000 into the park. That is of my own money. Money I could use to pay off my medical debt, pay off my house, or pay for the car that I have to go into more debt to get just to be able to work at the park everyday. It will be a long time before I even pay myself back my own investment. It will probably be at a year or two before I actually make any money myself,  becuase paying my employees well comes first. 

I'm also glad someone is noticing my marketing! I've put so much time into it, not to mention the time of the wonderful designers I have working for me. They by the way, are getting paid. And here I am working another hour for free! I want my modern, clean marketing to represent the product that is to come. A modern, clean skatepark. I'm doing everything to the highest quality I can with the resources I have, and I'm doing 90% of it on my own. 

My motivation for doing this labor of love is the kids in Portland. The kids who don't even realize how much they need what I'm building. When I was a kid I had no idea how much I needed our local indoor park until I started going there. That was my community. I spent every day I could at the skatepark and made all my friends there. I didn't even realize how much I needed friends until I found them. 

I'm doing this park for all the kids who love to ride, and yeah, even the ones who don't choose the same type of ride as me; kids who ride bikes, scooters, roller blades, and even quads! They need a park and a community as well. 

I am confused as to why someone would think I'm "enticing" scooter kids though, as I've never once advertised my park as a scooter park. The only time I mention scooters is if I'm directly asked, "Will you allow scooters?" Scooters are not my main focus, becuase I know so little about the sport and the culture.  I don't feel like I can serve other types of riders quite as well as I can serve skateboarders, becuase after 20 years of skating I know what skaters want. I understand the challenges, I understand the culture. And for the most part, scooter kids aren't a real challenge. They can be a mild annoyance at times, but in a monitored park that won't be as big of a problem. We will have a staff member who can guide younger riders as to how to ride the park, and how to follow park etiquette. And for those skaters who absolutely must ride in a skateboard only environment, we will offer Friday evenings as skateboards only. 

I hope that everyone who supports Stronger Skatepark can adopt the ideas the park is being founded on. The first being "Radical Inclusion." That means anyone can come and be a part of it, even kids, even kids not riding skateboards. Our goal is to build the community, both the skate community, and the larger community that all of us who live in the Portland area are a part of. Maybe we'll do even do something big enough to build up the collective community known as humankind. 

Every person is valuable, and every person is welcome. Thats the whole point of Stronger Skatepark. Together, We are Stronger. 

- Allison Waters