LEBANON — Drew Briese often drives over to the new Lebanon Skate Park, sits in his pickup truck and watches dozens of young skaters enjoying themselves at the professional-grade facility.
It’s been a long time coming.
Twenty years to be exact, but July 11, the community will officially commemorate the opening of the park, which was completed June 16.
“I was 16 when I attended by first skate park board meeting,” Briese said. “I’m 36 now. It’s taken a long time, but it turned out great.”
Briese has headed up a group of volunteers — adults and kids — that has devoted hundreds of hours of labor and thousands of dollars in concrete, brick and metal work to develop the park next to the Lebanon Justice Center, 40 N. Second St.
Briese is no stranger to the work at hand, as owner of Briese Custom Concrete.
“I love watching the kids,’ Briese said. “Their parents come down and take pictures. Sometimes, it gets packed.”
Briese estimates the project cost about $50,000, but would have cost $100,000 to $150,000 or more without volunteers and donations.
“Jim McDaniel and Dr. Thad Nelson each donated $10,000,” Briese said. “I’ve put in about 350 hours and I usually bill out at about $65 per hour. Many of my employees have donated time as well.”
Briese said the next phase of the project will be to develop a lot of vertical jumps, bowls and snake runs on the south and east side of the park.
“We’re going to have to hire this project out; it’s not something I do,” he said. “We’re looking for estimates now.”
Briese said many community members have commented about the new park, noting that the project had sat idle for a long time.
“Now, people can see where their money went,” he said. “We’ve had tremendous support.”
Briese said Dan Deibele, the owner of the Knot Hole Market, matches every donation placed into a jar on his convenience store’s counter.
“When we had the last work day, he brought down Gatorade, water and energy drinks,” Briese said. “He has been a huge help.”
Briese also thanked Cory McEldowney who completed the metal fabrication work around the park.
“One of our kids, Benjamin Bates, helped at every work party we had over the last year,” Briese said. “He has helped with everything from the footings up.”
Briese said that he rewarded the young volunteer by allowing him to ride for 15 minutes by himself on the first day the new park was open.
“He loved it,” Briese said.
Briese said he has had to work with the kids about picking up their garbage, but it’s coming along.
“I keep reminding them this is their park, not my park,” he said. “We’re not part of the city parks system yet, so we have to do the cleanup and take the garbage to our homes.”
Briese invites the community to the grand opening celebration at 11 a.m. on July 11.
“Mayor Aziz will be here and we will have some refreshments and vendors,” he said. “There also will be a competition that starts at noon with prizes in beginner, intermediate and advanced categories.
Registration is free.
“We will also have an all-round best trick contest with a cash prize,” Briese said.
Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.