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)
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