PORTLAND — Rocco DiDonato and his friends say they’ll consider camping out next to the city’s new skatepark when it opens in six weeks.

“I’m going to be here every day,” said DiDonato, 18, after the city finished Wednesday afternoon’s groundbreaking ceremony for the facility at Dougherty Field.

For DiDonato and others who enjoy “grinding,” “spinning” or generally “being rad” on skateboards and BMX freestyle bicycles, the dedication of the park was the culmination of an effort that began more than three years ago.

That’s about how long it took the city to find a suitable location and raise the $250,000 needed to build Portland’s first concrete skatepark.

In 2006, the city tore down its wooden skatepark — the Forum on Marginal Way — to make way for development.

That left bikers and skateboarders with few options other than using city streets and sidewalks or driving to skateparks as far away as Bath, Bethel and Rye, N.H.

“We had hoped to break ground last spring, but we did make it this summer, this being the last day of summer,” City Councilor Dave Marshall, chairman of Portland’s Skatepark Planning Committee, said at Wednesday’s event. “We pulled out all the stops to make this a reality.”

The skatepark will be part of Dougherty Field, a sprawling recreation complex off St. James Street that includes softball and baseball fields, soccer fields and an outdoor swimming pool. The skatepark was designed by Hardcore Shotcrete Skateparks Inc. of Missouri.

Though some have criticized the design as being undersized, the dozen or so bikers and boarders who turned out Wednesday said they are thrilled to have a park with so many features.

The park will include a skateable bench, “hubba” ledges, steps, rails, a “euro gap” and a quarter pipe, said Nicole Clegg, the city’s spokeswoman.

The euro gap will be a step cut into the ledge near the park’s large bowl. The hubba ledges will be on either side of one of the staircases, for grinding — when a bike or skateboard slides or scrapes across the park’s surface.

In the absence of a true skatepark, skateboarders have taken to the streets of downtown Portland. They can be seen at all hours, boarding around the Old Port, along Congress Street and near the steps of the federal courthouse. The city went so far as to install cobblestones on Exchange Street to discourage skateboarding there.

“I think there is no doubt, based on what I’ve heard, that people will come here,” said Mayor Nicholas Mavodones Jr. “But there will always be people who would prefer to be on the street.”

Mavodones noted that the skatepark will have plenty of parking, and will be on a city bus route.

“I’ll come here like every day,” said 18-year-old Josiah Webber of Portland.

Webber said some bikers and skateboarders have been driving to indoor skateparks in Rye, N.H., and Bath.

David Whitney, 15, of Portland said he has had to ride his BMX bike and his skateboard in and around traffic. “This (park) is going to be a much safer place,” he said.

DiDonato said he is looking forward to “generally being rad,” which he says means taking risks and having fun.

“It means a lot to have a place like this,” he said. “I am very happy it is finally here.”

Marshall said the skatepark project cost $250,000, and the city contributed land valued at $75,000, bringing the total cost to $325,000.

It was funded through a combination of sources that included foundation grants, bottle drives, a buy-a-brick program and school fundraisers.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]