If the opinions voiced tonight at the first community meeting about the Delridge skatepark-to-be hold sway, that’s the spot where you’ll see skateboarders in the next year or two – the northeast corner of the park, at Delridge and Genesee, immediately north of the parking lot and wading pool (which made news earlier today). Less than two months after the sudden Parks Department decision to place a skatepark in Delridge, rather than High Point (briefly under consideration) or Myrtle Reservoir (not so briefly, but highly controversially, under consideration), the process is moving along with high hopes and seemingly abundant goodwill. Ahead, what tonight’s meeting was for, how much the skatepark project is expected to cost, and what happens next:
The 50 or so people on hand were introduced to Parks Department project manager Kelly Davidson, design firm Grindline’s rep Micah Shapiro, and landscape architect firm Abbotswood‘s owner Fred Ogram. Main point of the meeting, they explained: Help pick which of three sectors of the park’s north side would make the most sense for the skatepark. Site #1, you saw in the photo above, and it got almost all the votes (green dots to be placed on the easel with your preferred site); site #2 was the clear loser, the park’s northwest corner (deluged with red dots):
Site 3, along 26th just past the convention center, was the near-unanimous second choice. So assuming the site is obvious, what will the skatepark be like? Here’s what we heard tonight:
-Its size won’t be determined till the size of the budget is known, and that’s not till November. The Parks Department is asking for $600,000 in construction money, which is in addition to the $40,000-$50,000 that design is expected to cost (Davidson told us they’re still negotiating the exact cost for that).
-$600,000 would probably buy about 12,000 square feet of skatepark, judging by what’s been spent on other area skateparks (the new Lower Woodland skatepark cost about $1,000,000 for 17,000 square feet); each of the three Delridge “sites” has about 20,000 usable square feet
–This is to be an “all-level” site, with features suitable for beginners as well as areas for experts
–No matter which of the three sites is chosen, no trees will be cut down, according to Davidson (the designers repeatedly mentioned the importance of trees for shade)
–Newly selected design firm Grindline, based in West Seattle (“actually born about 400 yards from here,” Shapiro grinned), has built more than 70 skateparks worldwide (examples here)
–Abbotswood has been working on skateparks for more than 30 years (examples here) and specializes, Ogram said, in “integrating skateparks into their sites”
–The designers don’t believe parking will be a problem — it’s theorized that many people would come to this skatepark on foot, by bicycle, and of course, by skateboard, so it wouldn’t add significantly to existing car traffic for the community center
Shapiro showed a wide variety of possible skatepark designs, “not just concrete rectangles,” as he put it, but it was made clear that tonight’s meeting was solely to get opinions on the physical location, not the features, which will be discussed once the budget is known.
Ogram addressed safety issues, speaking of “crime prevention through environmental design practices … how do we create a site .. that’s not going to encourage negative behavior?” A lot of that, he and Shapiro said, has to do with the site’s natural attributes — visibility and accessibility, among others. Site #1 (which later became the crowd favorite) was described as having a lot of those features — highly visible because of its corner location, close to parking lot, street and bus-stop access.
Once the facts were laid out, attendee questions and comments ensued, and absent the skatepark-focused ire we’d heard at some meetings before it was taken off the table for the Myrtle Reservoir park, there was a whole lot of love in the room. Nearby resident Nancy Folsom said she sees a lot of “foot traffic” for the park and “I would like nothing better than for these kids to have something (like skateboarding at a skatepark) to do … I think that will be positive.”
West Seattle skateboarding advocate Matt Johnston of seattleskateparks.org said skatepark users show a lot of stewardship toward facilities and also mentorship toward younger and less-experienced skaters, even “correcting behavior they think is antisocial.” He stressed, for anyone harboring doubts, “If you embrace the skatepark, the skatepark will embrace you.”
WHAT’S NEXT: In addition to the preferences on which attendees “voted” tonight, the site decision also will take into account site aspects such as underground utilities the city might have to work around. Meantime, neighborhood activist/advocate Pete Spalding, president of the Delridge District Council, urged skatepark supporters to contact city reps now to advocate for the money needed for this park– don’t wait till the budget comes up for a vote in November. (He also reminisced, talking with WSB, about meetings years ago regarding turning the former Cooper School into the current Youngstown Arts Center, at which time some said “when are we going to get a skatepark across the street at Delridge?”)
Spalding also put in a plug for the Parks and Green Spaces Levy that will be on the November ballot; he served on the citizens’ advisory committee that helped develop it, and pointed out it includes money for other improvements at Delridge, such as turf to replace the current “sand field”; another meeting attendee noted that levy money could pave the way for other future skateparks.
Back to this specific project, Davidson reminded the crowd it has its own website (see it here) and promised regular updates, saying material from tonight’s meeting would be posted there within two weeks. Otherwise, it’ll be a waiting game till the budget is determined — and she told us a construction timeline would be dependent on that budget decision, as well – “will we get funded for ’09, or for 2010?” as she put it.