GOLD HILL, Ore. — The Gold Hill Skate Park is now open. The town held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion this morning.
The park is a memorial to Tom Fish, a Gold Hill native and skateboarder who died of a drug overdose four years ago. His ashes are mixed into the concrete itself, and built into one of the ramps is a plaque bearing his name.
“I really wish that he could be here to see it, because I know he really would have approved of it,” said Peter Fish, Tom’s father.
Tom Fish died in 2009. His parents, Jan and Peter, came up with the idea of building the park in his name. At the time, it seemed unlikely at best.
“It just looked like an impassable obstacle to raise that much money,” said Peter Fish.
But apparently it wasn’t. Money poured in from non-profits, individual donors, even the state. The city began paying its volunteer park manager just to help create this park.
“It was immediately welcomed. There was no resistance,” said Rob Lowe, the Parks Manager originally in charge of working with the skate park.
City officials say in addition to helping long-term residents of the town, the project represents a huge opportunity.
“What we have going for us is our location,” said Lowe. “And I think our beautiful, multi-user park system represents both economic and recreational opportunity to the city.”
It’s an opportunity for the skateboarding community as well. Local company Jack’s Longboards is among the park’s supporters. Company employees say it’s one of the best skateboard parks in Southern Oregon, and the meaning behind it isn’t lost on anyone.
“Maybe someone from out of town may not realize it, but the local people do,” said Jack’s Boardhouse co-owner Rita Allred.
Jan and Peter say, whether people knew Tom or not, they just want people to enjoy it. They say that’s what their son would have wanted.
“Just enjoy life,” said Peter Fish. “And make the most of it.”