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Foundation Making Slow, Steady Progress
Escalon Parks Foundation President Mike Roark, left, pours a glass of wine for board member Tom Murphy as the Foundation hosted a wine booth at the Park Fete earlier this summer. This was the second year for the wine booth, with all proceeds benefiting the Foundations skate park project. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

Members of the Escalon Parks Foundation get together every month and are still focused on their goal of bringing the ‘Rail Town’ skate park to the community.

It’s just taking longer than they had hoped.

Foundation president Mike Roark said they are slowly inching toward the fundraising goal for the park and have enough now to move ahead with some design plans. The Foundation raised money this year through the sale of fireworks and also hosted a wine booth at Park Fete for the second year in a row.

“Everybody’s main question is when the park is going to be built,” Roark said. “We need probably about $200,000 for that and we have about $13,000 in the bank right now.

“We do have enough now to go forward with having the plans drawn and a design made and hopefully within the next year, for sure by next year at this time, we will have some sort of model built that we can actually show people.”

Roark, who has been skateboarding since he was about 10 years old, said he still skates to this day, some 35 years later. He wants to see the project completed, wants to give local kids the chance to skate in their own town, rather than having to travel to Ripon, Riverbank or elsewhere.

The Foundation features a core group of seven members, including Roark, Secretary Irene Laugero, Treasurer Gracie Marx and Board Members Tom Murphy, Nicole Harp, Alicia Rockwell and Jeff Bond.

Bond is another skater, still active in the sport.

“We have a monthly meeting, we discuss some ideas about fundraising, how we might creatively think of some fundraisers that people haven’t done yet, or ones that might be interactive for the community,” Roark said of always looking for ways to raise funds.

There is a design committee for the group and Roark said the park is planned as an all concrete, in ground park, between 10,000 and 12,000 square feet.

He said fundraising was buoyed this summer with the success of the fireworks booth and the fact that more people stopped by the wine booth at Park Fete. The Foundation may also look into grants and is considering its next fundraiser, perhaps a dinner dance and silent auction.

“I think the more people know we are still fundraising, trying to get the park built, the better it will be,” Roark said. “Things are being done, we’re just not always in the public eye.”

Volunteers interested in helping out in any way, whether it’s working at a fundraising event or even providing some labor at the site when the time comes, can contact Roark at 209-606-2373.

Foundation members have already looked into several skate park builders, aiming to bring in a company that specializes in that business.

“There’s a lot of detail and specifications that go into building a skate park, transitions are a big thing,” Roark noted.

He hopes to use the park when it is built and would like his now-adult sons, also skaters, to utilize it as well.

“We used to have a half pipe in my backyard,” he added.

He said skaters are typically passionate about their sport and he decided bringing a park to Escalon was a project he could get behind.

“They see the empty lot with our sign, over a year now, it’s good to let people know what’s going on,” Roark explained. “We’re letting everybody know that the wheels are still turning.”