Myrtle meeting: Skatepark shelved, other concerns simmer


We mentioned it briefly last night, and promised more details: After weeks of declaring the decision was made and space for a “skate feature” would definitely be reserved in the new Myrtle Reservoir park, city Parks Department managers announced an abrupt about-face last night. That left opponents happy, skatepark supporters fuming, and other issues with the park plan bubbling to the forefront:

The status of the proposal has been on a wild ride the past couple months.

Backstory – the city Skatepark Plan, issued last year, said West Seattle eventually would get a skatepark at either the Myrtle site or High Point. There’s no development on the drawing board for High Point, so Myrtle suddenly came into focus.

At a public meeting in January, the controversy raged (and it continued in the comments following that linked report — 91). Then in February, parks managers declared there WOULD be a skate feature (WSB coverage here). Then they appeared to back off of that at a Design Commission meeting in March — with a later clarification, no, they meant to say the skatepark IS in — and then project manager Virginia Hassinger appeared before the Morgan Community Association two weeks ago, reiterating “the decision has been made.”

MoCA wanted to know who made that decision and when, and sent the Parks Department a letter you can read on the MoCA home page.

When Hassinger and skatepark plan manager Kevin Stoops announced at last night’s meeting that the skatepark is now OUT of the plan, they said only that the decision had been made “recently.” We pressed them for a better timeframe after the meeting, and Stoops finally said the decision came just hours before the meeting.

He also said the Parks Department will revisit the skatepark-siting issue in the next “planning cycle” and will try to find someplace in the “south end” for a major facility.

After the meeting, West Seattle mom Sunshine Toledo, mother of a skateboarder, was livid:

West Seattle resident and skatepark advocate Matt Johnston (who runs wasn’t happy either:

Now, to the rest of the meeting:

First, an update on the site; the leveling of the ground over the capped reservoir top is almost done; topsoil and grass, 2 feet deep, will follow. The grassy area will be for general use; some attendees asked why that space couldn’t be used for restrooms. Hassinger reiterated what had been said at previous meetings – the park wasn’t big enough for them, but portapotties might be possible.

Traffic and parking came up, as they did at previous meetings. The city contends there’s plenty of street space for parking and that this park will not be drawing many people from outside the neighborhood.

Regarding traffic — there were questions about whether there would be a crosswalk or light at 35th/Willow; Hassinger said that would be a question for SDOT. Attendees noted that some people barrel down the street not-so-fondly known as “I-35” at speeds in excess of 65 miles per hour, and might have more pedestrians to dodge — or vice versa — because the reservoir site is becoming a park.

Construction is expected to start this fall. Formal comment periods are over but if you have a question or concern, you can reach project manager Virginia Hassinger here:
Postal mail: 800 Maynard Ave. S., 3rd Floor; Seattle, WA 98134

44 Replies to "Myrtle meeting: Skatepark shelved, other concerns simmer"

  • carraig na splinkeen May 2, 2008 (6:44 am)

    That is very disappointing.

  • dan May 2, 2008 (6:56 am)

    It would be really nice to read sometime about Seattle government acting differently than their normal pattern of going “anywhere the wind blows”

  • Ken May 2, 2008 (7:29 am)

    So who made the decision. And what was their justification?

    There are a few politically connected residents of that neighborhood but I have not seen their names surface as opposing the skate park…
    I will have to poke a few sources.

  • WSB May 2, 2008 (8:06 am)

    Matt Johnston wrote at his site (linked in our post) at some point just before the meeting that he had been told it was the parks superintendent. I didn’t see that till long after the meeting and way too late to verify but will be checking today.

  • baba nulu May 2, 2008 (8:15 am)

    It only takes a few vocal maybe connected NIMBYs. Extremely disappointing.

  • old timer May 2, 2008 (8:30 am)

    At the meeting, parks representatives said that the skatespot feature might be revisited on the next funding cycle if sufficient ‘community support’ could be found. When the question was asked what evidence would satisfy that ‘community support’ requirement, no answer was given.
    I guess it’s typical Seattle process.
    Well, the dogs will love the space; all that room to run & crap, especially since the grass will be ‘high’ and not mowed as frequently as is in typical parks.

  • MsElanious May 2, 2008 (9:31 am)


  • Rick May 2, 2008 (9:40 am)

    Sounds like busine$$ as usual in this town.

  • Michael May 2, 2008 (9:52 am)

    NIMBYs win, as they usually do in Seattle, driving up costs and inconvenience for everyone. I feel bad for the Parks Dept. – like the school board, they’re in a situation where they just can’t win.
    Re: “Attendees noted that some people barrel down the street not-so-fondly known as “I-35″ at speeds in excess of 65 miles per hour”: Sure, and people barrel down I-5 at speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour, probably with about the same frequency.

  • Loree May 2, 2008 (10:10 am)

    Extremely disappointing. I live a block away, and I was hoping the skatepark would be included… I guess that makes me an IMBY instead of a NIMBY?

  • Loree May 2, 2008 (10:19 am)

    @Michael – I live on 35th, at the crest of the hill, and excessive speeders are a big problem here. I don’t clock them, of course, but in the 8 1/2 years we’ve been here, there has been at least one accident a year at 35th & Othello. Most of these accidents are speed related, and the most recent (and tragic) resulted in the death of an elderly neighbor.

  • Keith May 2, 2008 (10:29 am)

    Ridiculous. Disappointing. And typical.

  • Indaknow May 2, 2008 (10:30 am)

    I think that is really sad. I guess the skateboarders will have to continue hanging out at the Westwood Village and SW Center parking lots. I’m not complaining about them, I think they deserve better than sharing space with cars and pedestrians. Speeding on 35th is a big problem. I am routinely passed by cars going >/= 45MPH.

  • » Blog Archive » Dude…where’s my skatepark? May 2, 2008 (10:47 am)

    […] out the ongoing coverage and comments on the West Seattle Blog

  • TFP May 2, 2008 (10:56 am)

    That is really disappointing. From all that I have read it seems public opinion was in favor of the skate feature. It sure doesn’t encourage people to become involved in their community or trust the public process.

  • jiggers May 2, 2008 (10:57 am)

    I vote NO for anything related or that smells like a park levee or education because they’ll jack my rent up more if any of those passes.

  • Aaron May 2, 2008 (12:05 pm)

    I’ve read statistics that more pedestrians are hit IN marked crosswalks than in areas with no markings. Tame the traffic, not the pedestrians.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Morgan Elite Association! So much for “community” eh guys?

    I say we build our own skatespot at Highpoint Playfield. Power to the people!

  • flipjack May 2, 2008 (12:28 pm)

    Maybe now there can be organized spontaneous “skate features” erected in the middle of 35th street or on nice “quiet” residential streets in protest of this “decision”.
    ahhh fooey!

  • Cindy May 2, 2008 (12:37 pm)

    As the parent of a 6-year-old daughter, who lives within walking distance of this park, I am very disappointed in this sudden rejection of the skatepark. In order to watch and practice skateboarding safely, we have to get in our car and drive to Burien’s skatepark. Why don’t the park representatives realize that children, and yes, adolescents and teenagers too, need safe places to play within walking distance of their homes? If we want Seattle to be a liveable city for families, we need to make public spaces where people of all ages can have fun and enjoy themselves. I feel totally let down by the parks department role in making this sudden about face.

  • Jerald May 2, 2008 (1:08 pm)

    What a shame, just sickening.

  • changingtimes May 2, 2008 (1:38 pm)

    someone should get Mr Nickels in on the action considering hes a west seattle lite, hope he is reading the blog….i know the “skaters” skate behind my house at all hours of the day (the junction area). they are nice enough but i just feel bad that they are in my alleyway doing jumps and flips when there are cars barrelling down the alleyway at excessive speeds and also huge trucks coming to drop off there goods to the businesses int the junction. the kids themselves are nice and polite and have not caused any issue.

  • Skateborad mom May 2, 2008 (2:04 pm)

    At the meeting the kids asked questions and even offered to raise the money themselves and they were never answered! That play structure will cost 75 – 80 thousand dollars – I am a mother of a 2 year old and I feel West Seattle offers a ton of places for my 2 year old to play saftley and good structurs that will help him grow and develope – but there is nothing for my 14 year old and his friends- our children are desperate yet they get brushed aside – it was never answered on how much money would be needed to put a skate park there-

  • Julie May 2, 2008 (2:18 pm)

    “…will try to find someplace in the “south end” for a major facility.”


    “Someplace” with no property-owner neighbors to complain? “Someplace” nobody cares about?

    Probably “someplace” the kids won’t even be able to walk to….

    So: this says to me that property owners are more important than kids. Anybody else remember the “Seattle is a KidsPlace” campaign?

  • Sue Scharff May 2, 2008 (2:47 pm)

    everybody, please please PLEASE write/call/email/fax the parks department, the mayor, the city council, the newspapers – everybody and anybody. it’s great to have a place like this where we can all vent, but i rather doubt nickels is going to read this, or anyone else in elected office. go to meetings, and call the people in power who are supposed to be running this city as a democracy – which is something we won’t have unless we demand it.
    p.s. julie: property owners (especially commercial ones) and developers are the only ones who matter to our mayor. we have to fight very very very hard for anyone else’s interests.

  • WSB May 2, 2008 (3:01 pm)

    Actually more than a few elected officials (and their staffs) do read WSB and have said so publicly. Just as important, if not more so (because they’re the people who keep their ears o the ground for their bosses), staff members do. I agree with Sue that it’s important to also make calls, write letters, send e-mail to reiterate your point, but I guess it’s not always obvious if you’re not on my end of the screen how much attention city government is paying to what’s said here. We even get notes and calls out of the blue “we see your readers want to know about …” sometimes before we can even put a call in for followup. Doesn’t mean your side is always going to get traction but I do want to correct any misconception that no one who matters will see your comments here. Meantime, we have a request out to the Parks Department for comment from the Superintendent, Tim Gallagher, regarding the reason for the last-minute order. Will post separately whenever that comes in.

  • WSB May 2, 2008 (3:04 pm)

    Also worth noting that West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is chair of the council’s Parks Committee.

  • Dan May 2, 2008 (3:13 pm)

    I’ve dealt with Hassinger before on a P-Patch project. Her communication skills are terrible.

  • Sue Scharff May 2, 2008 (3:13 pm)

    i just sent this to ms. hassinger.

    Ms. Hassinger:
    I was at last night’s meeting about Myrtle Reservoir park, but was only able to stay for about 30 minutes. I read more about the meeting here:
    and found no explanation about the dismissal of the skate park idea – instead, it appears people asked for one, but were given none. I would like that explanation. Once again, overwhelming public support is being ignored in favor of — what? something happening behind closed doors? I am appalled.
    Suzanne Scharff

    cc: Mayor Nickels (to email him, you have to go through his website. go here: and click on “email the mayor.” i called his office but they would not give me his direct email address.)
    Tom Rasmussen, Seattle City Council, Parks and Seattle Center Committee (as above:
    West Seattle Herald (
    Seattle Times (
    Seattle P-I (


  • Indaknow May 2, 2008 (4:34 pm)

    They should build a skatepark at the Denny site after the school is torn down. I live in the neighborhood, and I would welcome it. As large as West Seattle is, with all of the parks it has, it’s really inexcusable that space cannot be found for it.

  • Indaknow May 2, 2008 (4:51 pm)

    This may be lame to suggest, because other than writing to the above people I can’t help much, but there is a GREAT website about building public skateparks. It’s on Tony Hawk’s website and the address is
    Although West Seattle is not a low-income location, I would argue that we do have a significant “high-risk” population. Especially with all of our teenagers with nothing fun to do and no place fun to do it! They also offer strategies for combating the resistance that seems to be occuring. Good luck to you all, fight the good fight!!

  • GenHillOne May 2, 2008 (7:07 pm)

    When we hit sixth grade in our house, the lack of park activities for that age group was appalling. At a very vulnerable time for social growth and decision making at that. Having attended Alki CC for their great after school (and summer) program throughout elementary, it was disturbing to find that at middle school, it became a drop-in program and hit or miss at that (shared a coordinator who spent some days at Hiawatha, some at Alki)…not easy to get transportation to go along with that if you want to use the school bus. I don’t blame Alki CC in particular, but who decided that kids were ready to go out and take care of themselves the minute they hit middle school? The IRS doesn’t even let you claim “child care” after 13. It’s a time to stretch their wings and take on more responsibility, but we HAVE to offer options, and options for diverse interests. Seattle is woefully deficient in this endeavor. We don’t actually even have any skaters in our house and this makes crazy. Why can we not offer a public space, dedicated to a safe place to skate, at any age? I will, again, send my emails, but Parks, build a skatepark in WS. Myrtle, High Point, Delridge, Denny, somewhere.

  • denny May 2, 2008 (8:34 pm)

    this isn’t just disappointing, it’s infuriating. At what point do our “leaders” begin to realize that if we don’t provide a variety of positive places for young people to engage in healthy activities we will get overweight teenagers with no place to be without getting in trouble? And who actually made this decision and why didn’t that person have the guts to come to the meeting and explain his/her “reasoning”?
    I plan to contact each of these elected officials and remind them that I vote & pay taxes.

  • Frank May 3, 2008 (9:20 am)

    Ok folks, how many of you were actually at the meeting? Not to create more of a stir but judging from the accuracy of your comments…not many. Take for instance the woman who said the skateboarder’s questions weren’t addressed…she couldn’t have been further from the truth! Parks did an incredible job of conducting a thorough, 45 minute Q & A period…they just didn’t answer the questions they way some people would have liked…on both sides. I love the WSB…but the reporter essentially asked one slanted question and he bent it towards the response he wanted and scurried out of the room and wrote this obviously biased story. So some things to think about that I guess you won’t find here: Again, 1) a skatepark at Myrtle was located right next to a major arterial that many were opposed to for safety reasons, 2) there are no bathroom facilites at Myrtle (pro-skatepark folks seem to skip right over that issue and don’t address people urinating in bushes, etc…that would happen), 3) someone brought up that there were no people of color in all three meetings that we had…that’s more than noteworthy…a location in High Point might help solve that as well, 4) neighborhood support is obviously not as strong at Myrtle as it might be in High Point and the possibility of a larger park is even greater in that area…would a longer term approach to this problem make sense? (I can certainly understand that the upset mother just wants an immediate solution for her kids…but I don’t appreciate her de-grading of skateboarders when she said that they were just going to “tear up the concrete trails of the new Myrtle Park anyway”…I give ‘boarders much more respect than that). WE give the Parks Dept. high marks and our upmost support for having the courage for making a tough decision and sticking by it. I hope they will re-visit the issue by helping us create a grander park in High Point by helping both neighborhoods come together with both public AND private funding. Lets use this site to vent for a bit and then move forward with a call to action for something bigger and better.

  • MLJ May 3, 2008 (10:43 am)


    Please take a closer look at some of the issues around West Seattle skateparks and stay involved. Skateboarders would love your support, but there are a few points in this argument that you’re missing:

    – While I agree with the argument that there is a community center and bathrooms at the site, High Point is a terrible location for a skatepark for a few reasons. There is no available space on that property, therefore an existing facility or trees would need to be removed. Parks does not pit park users against each other as a policy, and from what I’ve seen all of the existing spaces are heavily programmed and utilized. Skateboarders do not deserve another manufactured conflict, and to be pitted against tennis players, soccer players, etc…

    The only unused space in the High Point property is hidden and does not meet any of the criteria that the City-wide skatepark plan set forth as requirements for a healthy and positive skatepark.

    A “bigger” skatepark is not necessarily the best idea. 4 or 5 smaller parks would decentralize the skateboarding activities and reduce the burden on any one neighborhood. It would also bring more skateable terrain to the kids in their own neighborhoods, reducing driving and bussing, which makes a decentralized system of smaller skateparks more of a sustainable option.

    We have pre-designated sites on the city-wide skatepark plan at Roxhill, Delridge, Hiawatha, Alki, and High Point / Myrtle. We should be trying to plan and build all of them as a complimentary system, with each park being a little different from the others. That way if kids wanted to get on the bus and ride around all day to the different parks it could be a fun “circuit” for them.

    Your other points… there are no bathrooms at Ballard skatepark and no one urinates in public there. It’s actually kind of presumptuous and judgmental to suggest that skateboarders would pee in the bushes, but frisbee players or anyone else spending time at the Myrtle park would not.

    There actually were people of color in the meeting, but I don’t really understand the argument. As a skateboarder I don’t really see race being an issue in any way, but perhaps I’m missing something.

    We don’t know what neighborhood support is going to be like in any of these neighborhoods, High Point or otherwise. The problem is that skateboarders encounter irrational resistance in EVERY neighborhood. Looking at this website, and the email that came in to the Parks Department regarding the Myrtle skatespot, there was a lot of support for it at that site. We should only have to justify that there are enough users in the neighborhood to warrant building a facility. We should not have to try and reason with people, who for whatever reason, have something against giving teenagers a safe public space across the street from their house.

    I actually felt like the Myrtle neighborhood really came around over the course of these three meetings. The first one made me think that the neighborhood was full of some really nasty, awful people. By the end of the process, most people seemed like they were actually trying to be empathetic to each other’s viewpoint. Personally, I think it’s too bad that a skate spot will not be built here, because it would’ve been a nice part of a larger network of smaller sites. I think a few well-connected folks at Myrtle screwed the rest of the neighborhood out of a nice amenity.

    But that’s just me…

    With respect, MLJ

  • d May 3, 2008 (11:27 am)

    I preface this with the fact that I am not well-informed about skateboarding issues, but I am wondering if another park – specifically, the Westcrest Park Reservoir which will be soon capped – has been considered.

    Westcrest Park is on the eastern most side of West Seattle, at the end of Henderson. There is an off-leash area for dogs. There are extensive walking trails through the adjacent greenbelt. The reservoir area has an expansive view of the city. Bathrooms and parking are in. The park is north of and adjacent to the CIty of Seattle’s Horse Unit stables.

    I’m a nearby property owner and I think a skateboard park on this spectacular site could be great for this community.

  • d May 3, 2008 (1:58 pm)

    Too little too late. I have a feeling this thread has been abandoned.

    Sorry skateboarders…For the first time, I just went and read the Skateboard Plan linked here. Should have read that first – dang it, I hate when that happens. I was otherwise occupied when citizen comment/input for the Westcrest Reservoir was happening. And, I’m disappointed about that. But, what I couldn’t find in looking at the Plan link was the specific reasons Westcrest Reservoir was dropped from the list of possibles. Maybe it is unreasonable to know what specific reasons were cited for dropping Westcrest at this juncture…perhaps not. Just curious.

    Again, I’m NOT a skateboarder. Just an old nosey neighbor who is out of the info loop :].


  • Chris May 3, 2008 (3:52 pm)

    I’m not crying…why invite the taggers and vandals to a brand new park? They will slide and scrape down every surface anyway until those metal brackets are attached. A big concrete eyesore is not what we need there…there must be another place with lots of cameras and lighting.

  • Chris M May 4, 2008 (1:50 pm)

    I couldn’t disagree more with the other Chris. I’d much rather see kids congregating with friends and skating than roaming the streets and alleys in twos and threes with markers.

    I’d encourage the “not in my back yard” set to actually go and check out some of the skate parks in the area.

  • Denny May 4, 2008 (4:30 pm)

    Frank –

    I was out of town and could not attend this meeting. I’m kind of glad I couldn’t go, as I’m not sure how adult I would have been in light of this poorly thought out, cowardly way to share the newest “final decision” on the skate park siting at Myrtle.
    Remember, this was not to build the skate feature, just to reserve a spot for it. There is no money allocated for any of the Skate Park plan that council has said is a priority, that parks people have said is a priority, but that no adult with decision making authority is acting like it’s a priority.
    I went to the last meeting and spoke in favor of positive places for young people to be active and healthy, whether it’s organized sports (which we have a number of fields for), or individual sports (we have track & field if the gates are unlocked).
    In this case, we have young people who want a safe and legal place to engage in a phsyical activity that (again) has been labelled as a priority for parks.
    If any elected official plans to trot out a parks levy anytime soon, they better have real money and “final decision” locations for where young people can skate legally.
    And then we voters will have to decide if we choose to believe them, this time.

  • DW May 5, 2008 (10:59 am)

    Is this really that big of a deal? I mean, skate boarding is somewhat of a niche activity that not that many people do. Yet to read The Stranger and the WSB, you would think there were masses of people clamoring for this. Come on, it’s not like they’ve taken away a basketball court or ball field or something more mainstram.

  • manual May 5, 2008 (3:08 pm)

    it is a big deal. not all kids play stick and ball sports. a lot of kids do like to skateboard and bmx. we have so many people here in west seattle that are having families and moving in. if we don’t offer something for these kids that don’t fit in to the normal stick and ball type of sports, well these are the kids that potentially turn into drug addicts, homeless and/or are obese. Go to the new, not even open yet Skatepark at Greenlake. There are 50 kids using this facility every night. It is awesome. Kids (and older kids like me who refuse to grow up) DO skate and ride, and we are tax payers too. People need to get out of 1950. It is like skiers saying Snowboarding is a fad. Be open minded people. The longer we wait, the more harm this will do to our own community. Look at the upcoming 08 Olympics, BMX is introduced and I hear in 012 Skateboarding will be in as well. Fads don’t get put in the Olympics.

  • T. Mckenney May 6, 2008 (11:33 pm)

    I attended the last meeting for the Myrtle Reservoir Park. I was disappointed to hear shortly after I arrived that the skateboard feature had been permanently removed from the final design. It was disappointing because I learned about too late. I think a skate park would be a great benefit to the community.
    I grew up down south in Kent. Since the age of 13 I have been skateboarding. It was a great way for me to occupy my time, and it kept my friends and I out of a lot of trouble. The city of Kent learned early of the benefits of skate parks and constructed one downtown. I spent most of free time in high school with friends at the skate park. While we were at the skate park we did not vandalize, sell drugs, destroy property, or fight. While we were there we focused on skate boarding. As I got older I understood the privilege we had by being one of the only cities in the area with a skate park. We did not want anything to happen to change that. We policed our on park. We kept the park clean and we did not allow activities to go on that would change the publics opinion of our park.
    I would encourage anyone who is against a skate park being in their backyard to spend some time at the Ballard skate park. I think it might change your perception. The park is very family friendly. A common sight to see is mothers bringing their children to the park to watch the skateboarder ride around the bowl. This is a safe and productive place for children to spend their time. I would also like to comment that the Ballard skate park has no bathroom facilities and I have never seen anyone urinating in the bushes.
    I have heard and read many comments that people don’t understand why everyone is fighting so hard for the Myrtle site. This has little to do with the site itself and more to do with building a skateboard park. West Seattle has been long over due for a skateboard park. It is very likely that when it becomes time to plan for the skate park at high point it will be met by the same opposition as the Myrtle site. How long will it take to get a skate board park in West Seattle? Who finally be ok with the park being in their backyard?
    With 42 comments posted on WSB and the amount of people who showed up at the meeting it is obvious that this is an important topic that needs to be addressed by the parks department and the city.
    The last comment that I would like to make is to all the kids who showed up to the meeting. Do not get discouraged by the city or by members of the community who don’t share your pro skate park views. Don’t give up fighting for your skate park. Keep attending meetings and let your opinion be heard.

  • seaweedtoasted May 7, 2008 (1:32 pm)

    This is such a bummer, but I am not surprised. The same (almost) thing happened at Ercolini. There were multiple articles in the Herald talking about skate features for older kids and when I emailed to offer help in any way, it was mysteriousley pulled from the park. Hmmm. I know there were only a few people against it and the majority supported it.
    I wish someone in WS would donate private property to build a public park. It seems like the only way to get it done. Sea Mar Community Health Center did this in South Park and soon, River City Skatepark will come to life.

Sorry, comment time is over.