While it might be hard for most people to imagine, standing in an empty lot filled with knee-deep weeds and blackberry shoots as traffic rushes past West Harvard Avenue, Cordell Smith will tell you that ‘he has seen it all.
Mini golf here, with ponds and waterfalls. BMX rolling and pumping tracks there like roller coasters for bikes. The pavilion filled with people playing ping-pong, shuffleboard and cornhole. Food trucks. The postcard-worthy views of the South Umpqua River.
Smith describes his vision for Thundering Water, a family-friendly recreation center that will focus on fun and healthy lifestyles that he and a group of other community leaders seek to build on a 3.3-acre site in the 1800 block of West Harvard Avenue. And unlike other places where parents drop off their kids and then come and pick them up hours later, this park will be designed to encourage families to stay together and play together, he said.
“Every activity at Thundering Water is designed to appeal to people of all ages,” said Smith. “Whether you’re 90 or 5, you can still have fun. We want all generations to interact together.
Thundering Water – the Chinook translation of the word Umpqua – is intended for a rectangular strip of land just west of Fir Grove Park and Roseburg National Cemetery. The plans call for just about everything you could ask for in a recreation center:
- An 18-hole miniature golf course spanning approximately half an acre that will feature waterfalls, ponds and other aquatic features. Each hole will celebrate a special place in Oregon, like Crater Lake and Toketee Falls. Major donors will also be honored at every hole. The course will be designed to present visitors with a unique set of challenges, Smith said. “We don’t want people to come and play this course once and say, ‘I get it. We want them to come back.
- Cycle tracks for cyclists of different skill levels including a pump track, which is a series of rollers and berms that has been described as a roller coaster on wheels. Smith said they came up with the idea during a family vacation to Sedona, Ariz. That included a visit to a bike park.
- A pavilion with a number of games including concrete table tennis, foosball, cornhole, ladder ball and shuffleboard. There will also be games and activities that alternate every few months to show off new creative activities that can be played at home. Such games include Round Net Spikeball, Human Pyramids, and Four Squares.
- Climbing walls and rocks, which will be color coded, depending on the level of risk and skill.
- A splash pad with bubble fountains set to music and fountains that project colorful foam.
- A lifestyle / nutrition center that will help visitors create better diets and healthier lifestyles. There will be instructional kitchens with open windows for people to watch the meals being prepared as well as TV screens to watch them. The meals will be plant-based. “Basically, the idea is to teach people how to prepare foods that are good for you but also taste great. A lot of people just don’t know how to cook delicious herbal recipes, ”Smith said. “They can see that eating well is not living on cardboard. We are really trying to dispel some of these myths.
- Food Trucks serving tasty and nutritious meals, including vegetarians. Smith said he hopes to have three to four trucks on site at a time and has a firm commitment from Wrappin and Rollin, a vegetarian restaurant in Roseburg that also has a food truck.
HEALTHY FUNSmith said it’s important for the park to provide healthy food and activities as well as a fun time for visitors. This emphasis on healthy lifestyles is a belief of Smith and the rest of the board, he said.
As a podiatrist, Smith said 70% of his patients seek treatment for diabetes, which is often associated with food and lifestyle choices. And it points to health issues more prevalent in Douglas County, such as obesity, heart disease, chronic disease and other illnesses often linked to poor diet and lifestyle choices, Smith said.
Thundering Waters hopes to fix these issues, but to do so in such a fun and entertaining way, he said.
“This whole initiative is under the umbrella of health and wellness,” Smith said. “As a community, we are kind of struggling to get these chronic diseases under control. It is a way of educating people. We hope this will be a force for good in the community.
One way to do this is to make the center accessible to as many people and families as possible, he said. This is the main reason Thundering Waters is a nonprofit – removing profit seeking will help reduce costs, he said.
While details are still being worked out, Smith said general admission would be around $ 1 if a minor is accompanied by an adult. Activities within the park will be additional. A round of golf, for example, will cost around $ 8, he said. The pricing is structured to encourage families to reunite, Smith said. Annual passes will also sell for around $ 95 each.
“Because we are a non-profit organization, admission will be inexpensive. It’s not an exclusive club, ”Smith said.
The driving force behind the project is the five-person board of directors. In addition to Smith, the board members are Jared Cordon, Superintendent of Roseburg Public Schools; Brent Eichman, CEO of Umpqua Health Alliance; Knut Torvik, CEO of ABCT, Inc .; and Nicholas Jones, engineer at ie Engineering Inc.
The group wastes no time getting the park off the ground. They started to seriously discuss the project about seven months ago. Thundering Water, the name of the non-profit company behind the business, incorporated in June. His official IRS 501 © (3) statement is pending, Smith said. However, the association accepts donations.
LOOSE ENDSThe group has already put together a 35-page project plan, a list of dozens of potential donors and over a dozen grant opportunities as well as a list of business owners and other community leaders who support the project.
The construction schedule is also on a fast track. Construction is scheduled to begin in June and the target date for the center’s official opening is May 26, 2023, the Friday before Memorial Day.
“Everyone has been very supportive,” Smith said. “People are realizing that this is a benefit for the community.”
Many features of the park, including the miniature golf course, will be designed and built by Victory Builders, Inc., which is owned by Tom Pappas. The Pappas family, led by Tom Pappas, have made a name for themselves over the years by building whimsical projects at Disneyland, Las Vegas casinos and elsewhere.
Tom Pappas’ son Pete Pappas, who is the vice president of Victory Builders, said they plan to make the miniature golf course different and memorable.
“We’ve all played some cheesy games and we’ve seen some good ones, and we want to get creative with this one and try to make this thing unique,” Pappas said. “We want to make you feel like you are experiencing Umpqua Valley by playing this course.”
There are still some details to work out. The estimated cost of the project is $ 2.5 million, including $ 1.5 million for the cost of the land. It’s money that needs to be collected, he said, adding that there are big donors lined up, but they want to see smaller donations start arriving first before checks are issued. .
The land zoning needs to be changed, but Smith said initial conversations with city officials went well and he sees no obstacles on the horizon. The undergrowth at the far end of the site needs to be cleared to open the view of the river, and a walking path along the river that will eventually link this area to Stewart Park needs to be funded and constructed.
But Smith dismisses these small drawbacks.
Instead, he points to a synergy that will help make the project a success – families from Fir Grove Park coming in after the football games, shoppers from the Umpqua Valley Farmers’ Market across the street stopping by. To play, students from nearby Fremont Middle and Roseburg high schools visit after school for a fun time.
In short, Smith believes he is part of something the community wants and needs, a place for important messages about good health, delivered through fun family entertainment.
“We were trying to improve health and wellness, but doing it through recreation,” Smith said. “You can never underestimate the power of leisure. “
Scott Carroll can be reached at [email protected] or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @ scottcarroll15.