Roxhill officially opens: ‘There’s nothing like this Castle Park that you have built’

April 20, 2013 at 8:32 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 21 Comments

Story by Tracy Record, West Seattle Blog editor
Kids-at-play photos by Nick Adams, WSB contributing photojournalist
Stage/podium photos/video by Patrick Sand, WSB co-publisher

Today’s celebration at Roxhill Park, formally opening its renovated play area and brand-new skatepark, was a blossom that’s been budding for five long years, though that’s all ancient history to those who couldn’t wait to get their hands (and feet) on it today:

In June 2008 – before the Parks and Green Spaces Levy even went to Seattle voters – we noted that its West Seattle proposals included money to improve the Roxhill Park playground, which now includes a climbing dome as well as a castle:

But as city leaders noted in paying tribute to the community effort that followed, it became so much more than what was originally envisioned: A splendid new community-built “castle” to replace the beloved-but-deteriorating one that another group of neighbors had put up in the ’90s; a skatepark for the south end of West Seattle, to complement the year-and-a-half-old predecessor in North Delridge – a skatepark that today drew 5-year-old Merek Jackson, who’s been skating for a year and a half, according to his dad:

Merek was a toddler when this all started to take shape through community discussions – starting with an August 2011 meeting to talk about both the skatepark and playground, including some angst about losing the old castle, continuing afterward with separate meetings.

By the end of 2011, the concept of a new castle, community-built as specified by Leathers and Associates – which also created the old one – had taken shape; community advocate Mat McBride spoke in a comment here about the person-power that would be needed. Today, he stood at the podium and recounted with pride how the new castle became reality.

The community build required a massive amount of planning and repeated calls for volunteer help. The old castle started coming down in September; its successor started going up in November.

The process – the hard work, the fun, the accomplishment, the donations, the volunteers – was part of what was recounted at today’s ceremony; here it is in its entirety, 24 minutes ending with the ribboncutting:

Also praised today, the special touch that evolved after the castle construction began: The ceramic turret art by Mike Henderson. “Nothing like that in the city,” as praised during today’s event. Henderson spoke with pride about most of the tiles having been salvaged from “a Dumpster.”

And did we mention the extra grant from the Department of Neighborhoods, and the synergy with the West Seattle Tool Library, whose red mobile unit was visible at the site throughout, and which benefited from grant-bought tools afterward? “The spirit of sustainability” was how City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who chairs the Parks and Neighborhoods Committee, phrased it. She also declared, “There is nothing (in the city) like this Castle Park you have built.” Like the old castle, it has many facets to be discovered – including a tube slide:

Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams gushed warm words too, including reminiscing about Roxhill Park visits during his senior year at blocks-away Chief Sealth. He mentioned Parks’ commitment to taking care of the new features, noting a rapid response to a recent round of graffiti/tagging vandalism at the park’s comfort station, just south of the play area. And those features are many:

“What else would you like in West Seattle?” asked Councilmember Bagshaw, pointing out that the Parks and Green Spaces levy expires this year.

She and others are putting together a potential replacement – though she also reiterated what’s already been said, that this one will make more than a gesture toward funding park maintenance, currently sorely underfunded, so that existing parks can stay open for future super-users like 21-month-old Hershel Robinson:

As the Roxhill team – volunteers and Parks project managers (Kelly Goold succeeded Kelly Davidson) showed the rest of the city, you might as well dream big – but be ready to put your skin in the game, too. That’s what made it possible for a whole new generation of West Seattle kids to enjoy Roxhill …

… and, like Angie Hardy‘s 5-year-old son Elliott, generate a whole new generation of smiles.

Roxhill Skatepark and Playground face 29th SW, just south of SW Barton, across from the southwest edge of Westwood Village.

(9-year-old Brooklyn Arnold, upside down)

21 Comments

  1. Cannot wait to play here! Was working today but we are heading down first thing tomorrow morning for a romp!

    Comment by lina — 8:56 pm April 20, 2013 #

  2. We had a great time at the opening of the park today!! The photographer took an awesome picture of my daughter Brooklyn hanging upside down on the rope climbing structure. How can I get a copy???

    Comment by Alisha — 10:11 pm April 20, 2013 #

  3. Hey, Alisha – I think I have that one. Will just add it to the story; I had to leave the house without adding a couple more that I wanted to use.

    Comment by WSB — 10:20 pm April 20, 2013 #

  4. So proud!

    Annnnnd my wee guy got to cut the ribbon, too!

    What an awesome day :)

    Comment by BrassyMomma — 10:59 pm April 20, 2013 #

  5. Looks awesome. Now keep the weedheads away from the kids and area. Frankly I’m sick of it and I smoke occasionally.

    Comment by hi — 11:04 pm April 20, 2013 #

  6. I took my 2 year old here earlier this week! It’s a great park!!

    Comment by Westgirl — 12:01 am April 21, 2013 #

  7. Thank you WSB for more community highlights that aren’t crime. It still goes to show that WS is a great place to live!

    Comment by T — 2:16 am April 21, 2013 #

  8. Keep a very close eye on your kids here, and watch yourself as well. The skaters have been racing up and down surrounding sidewalks (including the bus stop area) and the park itself is a magnet for drug use and other criminal activity – including armed robbery by teens. So far, no interest by the City in cleaning this up.

    Comment by enid — 6:51 am April 21, 2013 #

  9. Hi! I did the mosaic roof thing. It was great to see the park filled with kids! I forgot to mention Denise N, Billy D, and Linda P among a handful of other helpful people who made the process go faster and be endlessly more enjoyable. So thanks to them.

    Comment by Mike Henderson — 7:46 am April 21, 2013 #

  10. Can’t speak to the skateboarders but the robberies were three months ago. I just checked the past two months of crime maps for the park area and aside from graffiti vandalism, nothing. If there’s “criminal activity,” nobody’s calling it in, and nobody’s brought it up at the crime-prevention meetings, either. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:42 am April 21, 2013 #

  11. This is a wonderful thing to see. Of course we said that several years ago when they built the first round of this park. I hope city codes don’t change again in a couple years and it has to be built again for a third time.

    Comment by Boy — 10:11 am April 21, 2013 #

  12. Yea!!!! I love seeing the kids and skateboarders at the park. So cool hearing laughter coming from that area.

    Comment by Heather — 10:13 am April 21, 2013 #

  13. Ah this puts a smile on my heart, I hope the community takes care of this beautiful addition to our park.

    Comment by Silly Goose — 12:26 pm April 21, 2013 #

  14. Just because there hasn’t been an arrest in 3 months doesn’t mean the problem is solved. I’m there on a daily basis and have a pretty accurate and up to date perspective on what goes on there. It does no good to continually report to police if the operator is rudely dismissive. The day after the arrest (and immediate release) of the teens in question I called to report a gang of teenagers in the bushes, using drugs. I was told bluntly that they were “not breaking the law”. End of convo.

    Cops do not actually walk through the park. The drug users know exactly where to go so that they can’t be seen from Barton. They even have a spray-painted entry to their ‘lair’.

    Comment by enid — 1:42 pm April 21, 2013 #

  15. Thank you WSB for a lovely story. Its wonderful to see a community come together around this space.

    Comment by ws born & bred — 2:59 pm April 21, 2013 #

  16. Hi Enid & Everyone else concerned about crime at Roxhill. The new Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights (WRAH) Community Council meets every first Tuesday of the month. Next meeting is May 7th where we will be talking about organizing ourselves into Committees. Please come! and join the group if you are on Facebook.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/WWRHAH/

    Comment by Amanda — 4:28 pm April 21, 2013 #

  17. Just want to also add that this park would not be a reality without the hours of blood, sweat, and tears given by Whitney McBride. She headed the steering committee, often worked alone in the rain setting up and tearing down, oversaw everything, and got it done, even when it meant doing it by herself. Not trying to take away from the rest of the amazing volunteers who all gave so selflessly. Just think that Whitney needs a little pat on the back too. Great work, Whitney!!! Thank you for all of your hard work!!

    Comment by ellenater — 10:31 pm April 21, 2013 #

  18. I was told as a kid by my mom 35 YEARS ago that I should not go into that park. Roxhill Park has always been a bad place, but hopefully this playground is a start.

    Comment by DJ — 2:12 am April 22, 2013 #

  19. Enid,

    In addition to venting your frustrations here, take advantage of your new neighborhood council which has formed as Amanda points out. Councils can be powerful agents of change – YOU and other concerned folks will have another venue with other opportunities to be heard and to help address issues. You are very lucky your neighbors have stepped up to get the ball rolling with the council and the improvements on the park. Perhaps taking a deep breath to realize even some small appreciation for those proactive efforts is in order? Take your frustrations and worries to the meeting. If you have information your community needs, go to your community meeting, share it and help the orher caring folks meet these challenges.

    Comment by westseattledood — 6:41 am April 22, 2013 #

  20. With more attractions at the park hopefully there will be increased patronage and less isolated areas for potential lawbreakers to choose from.

    Comment by Alberta Gooding — 8:09 am April 22, 2013 #

  21. As a volunteer on the planning and construction of this park, I’d like to encourage everyone to give a little gift of time and energy to our community – it pays back overwhelmingly!! To experience the joyful laughter of the dozens of kids and families playing in the park on opening day was a huge reward for the few hours I spent in the rain helping build the structure. We made this happen together, and there are many other opportunities to work together to make West Seattle even better. Happy National Volunteer Week!

    Comment by susieq — 10:44 am April 22, 2013 #

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