From the day the city’s new skate park opened nine years ago, Portland recreation department officials could see it was going to be a sensation.

The skate park at Dougherty Field, which opened in 2008, is often at capacity with 60 to 70 skateboarders rocketing through its obstacles during peak-use times, and finding lines of skateboarders waiting just to enter the park is not uncommon.

“It was overcrowded from the first day it opened,” Ethan Hipple, the city’s parks director, said Wednesday evening.

But Hipple hopes to alleviate the overcrowding by doubling the size of the existing 8,350-square-foot facility.

The major challenge will be raising enough money. Hipple estimates the project would cost $300,000, including $100,000 raised privately.

About 50 skateboarders, mostly young people, gathered Wednesday at the East End Community School to hear more about the proposal and to offer input. When Hipple asked how many people had just come from the skate park, about two-thirds raised their hands.

“It’s home,” one man shouted.

The meeting even drew a parkour practitioner, Ed Whitehead, who asked that the city consider adding features that could be used by members of his discipline. Parkour is a sport that includes running, climbing, swinging and vaulting over obstacles to get from one point to another as efficiently as possible.

“It would open up our options and help to legitimize our sport,” Whitehead said.

The skate park expansion would feature shade trees and a water fountain, an idea that drew applause from the crowd.

It would also be built over a more level piece of ground adjacent to the existing park and feature ledges, a pump track, a quarter pipe, rails and boxes.

Some of the skateboarders said they didn’t like the proposal, which was designed by American Ramp Co. of Missouri.

“It’s a bad design. It seems like there is a lot of wasted space,” said Hunter Finden, who skateboards at the park daily. Finden said the expansion area is too flat. “It just doesn’t flow well.”

Hipple said the parks department will seek City Council approval to allocate $200,000 toward the skate park expansion in next year’s capitol improvement plan budget.

The remaining $100,000 would be raised privately by a skate park committee, which will consist of six adults and six younger skateboarders.

“It’s going to be a process and it could take a bit of time to complete,” Hipple told the audience. If everything goes according to plan, the new, larger skatepark could be ready for use by the spring 2019.

The existing skate park is on St. James Street.

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

[email protected]