Archive for the “Call to Action” Category

Here we go again…

Word recently came in via our friends at Skate Like a Girl that not-even-ten-years-old-yet Seaskate #4 will be demolished as part of the future Key Arena upgrades by the Oak View Group (OVG).  In addition, the Skate Like a Girl headquarters office in the Blue Spruce building adjacent to Seaskate will also be demolished.  Why you ask? Well…in order to build a parking lot of course!

The Seattle Center told SLAG in a surprise meeting that Seaskate will not be relocated at the Seattle Center. They have offered SLAG an office on the Seattle Center campus, but the exact location or details have not been confirmed. The City of Seattle and the OVG are currently negotiating the terms of the Key Arena upgrades in a document called a Memorandum of Understanding (Agreement) that must be finalized by December 5th and is well on it’s way to meet that deadline.

Seattle-area skatepark advocates have reviewed the draft agreement and identified only a single clause regarding the Seaskate replacement.  This clause identifies a $1.5M total replacement budget for Seaskate, a maintenance facility for Seattle Center maintenance staff, and “other public amenities” impacted by the renovations. As we know from previous experience, this amount is wholly inadequate (The current incarnation of SeaSk8 cost over $3m). We also know that without a designated site for the replacement park, skateboarders are at risk of being marginalized once again to the outskirts of town and losing the only skatepark in Seattle’s urban core, not to mention the potential years of downtime that can straight up destroy a skatepark’s community.

In case you need a refresher course on what’s gone on with the last few versions of the Seattle Center skatepark, you can find some history here, here, and on this very website here. But this is just the last 10 years of history. This skatepark has been rebuilt FOUR TIMES, and there is a whole other generation of skaters and advocates that carried the torch for the first 10 years of it’s 20 year legacy.

So what can you do?

Write an email to these people telling them that they need to do the right thing and either leave the skatepark alone, or get crackin’ on a new site and budget that aren’t insulting and inadequate:

sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov
Robert.nellams@seattle.gov
john.merner@seattle.gov
tim.burgess@seattle.gov
jesus.aguirre@seattle.gov
bruce.harrell@seattle.gov
Debora.Juarez@seattle.gov

There will also be a meeting at 10:30am on November 16th at City Council chambers, where you can let your voice be heard and speak directly to the Committee on Civic Arenas who have the power to amend the MOU to include the right provisions. Demand that your city government protect skateboarders from being bulldozed by Tim Liewicki, Live Nation, and all the other big business interests that want to convert your public spaces into places they can charge you a premium to access!

UPDATE: This post originally stated that the group of musicians who sent a letter to the city were supporting the OVG plan, but they got back to me and they and clarified that in fact they were supporting Chris Hansen’s plan that does not impact the skatepark.

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Do you want lights at the Greenlake skatepark?

The best chance of making this a reality is to attend a meeting next Tuesday, September 4 at the Greenlake Branch Library at 6:30pm.

This Seattle Parks sponsored meeting is to discuss the adjacent funded ball field and tennis court lighting upgrades.  These upgrades do not include or provide funding for the skatepark.  However, due to the direct adjacency of these upgrades, existing infrastructure, and organized skatepark user group, this is a great meeting to attend and advocate (politely since this is not even a skatepark meeting) on behalf of lights for the skatepark.  In the past, there has been opposition to anything related to the skatepark by a small group of nearby residents so Seattle Parks staff need to hear overwhelming support for future lighting improvements if it will ever happen.  Please help us provide this overwhelming support by attending the meeting and making some simple statements on behalf of lighting upgrades.  A broader demographic of support will be more effective so parents and kids are urged to speak.  Space may be limited for public comment so arrive early (meeting starts at 6:30pm) and sign up for comments.

Below are some potentially useful points to make during your public comment that would result from lighting the skatepark:

·         Synergy with surrounding lighted sports facilities (softball and soccer fields have lights closer to homes so skatepark lighting would be masked by these lighting sources)

·         Facilitate year-round skatepark use

·         Power is already installed on site

·         Other skatepark projects and/or organized funding campaigns may fund it

·         An advocacy group already exists

·         Provide increased support for skate camps and programming

·         Graffiti deterrence

·         It’s the equitable thing to do

·         Estimated 20,000 skatepark users currently only have one skatepark available with lighting

·         Increased use will promote greater community building and self policing of the skatepark

·         Upgraded light poles for ball field could be designed to support additional lighting banks for skatepark

Hope to see you (and your kids!) at the meeting.

Ryan Barth

Chairperson, Seattle Parks and Recreation Skate Park Advisory Committee

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Skate for Change describes themselves as “a local group of skaters committed to giving back to the low-income & homeless in Seattle”, but in my view they are way more than that.  They are taking a proactive approach to community outreach and doing positive work in the community while doing something they love.  They also have created an open framework for skaters to make a difference.

The Seattle crew was inspired by an effort that started in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Check out this video for the complete story. If this video doesn’t move you, check your pulse…you’re probably dead.

Get involved with Skate For Change.  You’ll create change in your community, but you’ll also evolve yourself. You won’t regret it.

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I’m afraid Roxhill skatepark design process, but more specifically California Skateparks/SITE Design’s approach to designing it, is quickly becoming the disaster we were worried about.

The meeting last night wasn’t super packed, but the skaters that were there were clearly underwhelmed by the California Skateparks offerings.  You can check out most of it by looking at West Seattle Blog’s comprehensive coverage of the meeting.

For one thing, SITE’s Colby Carter brought a single design to the meeting.  Typically the second meeting involves 3 alternatives which encourages dialogue, as opposed to one option which really feels more like “this is what you are getting.”  I also wonder if all the time spent with Joe Ciaglia up to this point (1 public meeting, 1 SPAC meeting) was really well spent as the design shown last night didn’t really feel like an evolutionary step in the process but yet another total reboot in a series of disjointed iterations.

The one positive thing I’ll say is that they did move the design toward a pure street plaza, which is something we did suggest at the last SPAC meeting.  I still think that we should simply focus this design and make a great park for street skating FIRST, and not try to water it down by adding some token transition elements, because that won’t serve either audience very well.  The site is too small for a hybrid design.  But it seems that Colby has taken that direction as permission to get out his skatepark construction kit software and phone in a boilerplate design that doesn’t go far enough in terms of making the best use of this challenging site.

I think what we’re seeing here is the difference between a designer that’s “donating” their work, as opposed to what we normally see, which is a designer working hard to earn the precious and rare revenue (especially these days) that is coming from public funding.  We kept hearing from Seattle Parks that they couldn’t afford to turn down such a generous “donation” from the Dyrdek Foundation/CSP in these financial times, even if the firm donating these services wasn’t being vetted through the typical public process.  I think now we’re seeing the real cost of subverting the public process that requires competition and public input for designer selection.

(BTW:  I keep putting donation in quotes because really, the value of the design services in question have been grossly misrepresented by both Seattle Parks and California Skateparks/Dyrdek Foundation.  One letter from Parks and the Mayor claimed a valued of “over $100K,” but Seattle Parks has since adjusted that number to +/- $30K, a small price to pay to win the contract for a skatepark project in a city that has a city-wide skatepark plan with 27 more parks in it.)

I see several issues moving forward that need to be addressed immediately:

–  So far the process and California Skateparks hasn’t shown that they’re respecting the input from the skateboarders.  They say they are, but situations like last night where we’re showed only one option leave us with the (possibly incorrect) impression.   We haven’t seen a whole lot evidence of input feeding back into the design process.  Which, real or not, makes these meetings feel like window dressing.  The difference between last night and recent meetings for Delridge, Jefferson, Northgate, and Judkins couldn’t be more pronounced.  This doesn’t feel collaborative at all, which sucks. Honestly, at this point, I don’t know what to do about this other than getting the design presented last night posted on the web as soon as possible and get more feedback via the internet channels.  (See below)

–  The current design doesn’t flow and there are obvious areas where lines conflict.  For one thing there is no way to get back up, so effectively what we have here is a ski hill situation with everyone riding downhill and then walking back up to take another one.  We know the site’s elevation changes are presenting a challenge for this designer, and we’re not expecting them to reverse gravity, but last night we got an excuse and some finger pointing at the city and Seattle Parks.  This seems unacceptable as a skatepark designer’s job is to solve these problems through great design.

–  There was very little variance in the features in last night’s design.  Lots of duplication.  I thought the idea that the youngest skater in the house last night, to vary the heights of the features, was a good one.

What do you think?

Post your comments here about the design and we’ll make sure they get recorded and considered in the process.  Also, if you care about this park enough to post a comment, you should also consider showing up to the next meeting on Monday, November 14th at the Southwest Branch library (35th/Henderson), 6PM.

To be fair I think Joe/Colby are in a tight spot with a very challenging site, but the fact that they are “donating” their services is contributing to a situation where we need to push them a little harder to get a quality product.  Even they would say that they need more input, so let’s give it to them.  Post up.

Comments 8 Comments »

Get out your NIMBY sticks folks, because the Summit Slope Skatedot (formerly known as Summit and John) is officially under threat.

The first official skatedot built by Seattle Parks, the Summit Slope skatedot was met with much proactive support from all parties involved during the three public meetings that were held before construction began last year. What few neighbor concerns that were voiced during the meetings seemed to be resolved during those meetings and subsequent discussions between Parks managers and the SPAC.

However, immediately after the opening of the skatedot, the NIMBYs emerged from the darkness. Complaints started pouring in to Parks from the neighboring businesses, Starbucks and the Personal Injury Lawyers directly adjacent, and a neighbor in the apartment building across the street posted some videos on YouTube to document his frustration. That neighbor eventually attended a SPAC meeting and aired his grievances that were understandable to some extent. As usual, I over-documented and commented on this chapter of the Park’s history here.

Since then, Parks has addressed all of the complaints they’ve received by spending $7870 of public funds on remediations intended to address the neighbor’s concerns.  This includes bollards, a fence, turtles, a sign, skatestoppers (on a non-skatedot area rail), and rubber edging.  Skaters who use the park regularly have stated that the remediations seem to have reduced any possible chance of pedestrian conflicts, which was one of the two main complaints, and they have not witnessed any problems or collisions with peds.

Regardless of this massive and expensive effort to appease the neighbors, they still don’t seem to be happy.  In what appears to be official Seattle Parks policy, they have exceeded their NastyGram threshold and are now lending credence to these NIMBY arguments by bringing them in front of the Parks Board of Commissioners.  For those unaware, they are the group of citizens that Parks uses as a sounding board (and as in this case…flak shield) for issues like these.  There will be a hearing of sorts on the future of the skatedot, at the next Board of Commissioners meeting, on Thursday, May 12, at Park Headquarters: 100 Dexter Ave North, 7:00PM.

You can also email your thoughts to the commissioners by sending a note to:  sandy.brooks@seattle.gov

There is also a Facebook page that you can “Like” here, and also follow the progress.

Ironically enough, the official park dedication ceremony is this Monday, May 1st.  Unfortunately, the skatedot is not heralded much in the announcement for that event.

Bringing this issue to the Board of Commissioners means that Parks feels it has done everything within it’s power to mitigate the complaints being brought forth by the neighbors, and they’re escalating to the Board.  The fact that there are two personal injury lawyers barking about pedestrian injury risk is probably scaring them too.  But they built this park and they want it to succeed, so we need to support this project and the work they’ve done to build something for skateboarders in Capitol Hill.

Parks has shown a desire to address the concerns by spending considerable resources on remediation.  The noise complaint is ridiculous because the skatepark is nowhere near the volume of the passing busses, cars, late night drunks, and emergency sirens.  These people live and work in a dense urban environment and they are being unreasonable at this point.  If you need more clarity on the rational moderate argument for this skatedot, read this.

This is an important project because it’s the first skatedot.  If this one goes down, then it will be really difficult to build more.  If you support skateboarding in Seattle, and feel that skateboarders have as much of a right to the use of public space as anyone else, you need to act now on this.

The last time someone tried to erase a skatepark from the map, it started an entire skatepark advocacy movement in Seattle, that led to a city-wide skatepark plan and what will be 6 new skateparks by the end of 2011.  I wonder what will happen this time…

Finally, here’s a video of the space being used as intended:

Comments 1 Comment »

Kevin Hilman is trying to get a skatepark built in Lake City.  This part of the North end always gets dissed because it’s a part of Seattle, but it’s often not thought to be.  It’s also contains several pockets of concentrated lower income housing, which is  something that’s usually attributed to South Seattle.  People forget that not all of North Seattle looks like Maple Leaf.

Heres what Kevin has to say in his own words about his effort to get the spot built.  Please feel free to reach out and help the guy if you care about skateparks in Seattle.  He has created a website and is doing all of the right things.  He just needs some skaters to step up and work with him to make it happen.

————-
New skatespot project in Lake City

There’s a new skatespot project trying to gain momentum in Lake City,
and they need your help.  Identified as part of the city-wide skatepark
plan, Lake City Playground has been recommended as a location for a
skatespot.  The proposed park is about 2 blocks west of Dick’s.
A skatepark in some form has long been on the wish list for the
neighborhood, so the project has strong support from various local
businesses and community groups such as the Lake City Chamber of
Commerce and the Lake City Development Council.  However, while the
project has strong support, it needs more people to get to the next
level.  What is currently needed is a core group of volunteers to drive
the project forward.
Specifically help is needed for:
– designing, distributing flyers
– ongoing outreach to neighbors, local business, youth organizations
– grant writing
– exploring other fund raising opportunities
If you live in NE Seattle, or know some skaters or skater parents that
do, please let them know about this project, and encourage them show
their support, or even better, to get involved.
For more details, background, maps, contact info, etc. see the project

 

 

Comments 3 Comments »

When we were losing the Ballard Bowl (V1), a bunch of us went and volunteered at the Ballard community clean-up day.  We grabbed hedge sheers, rakes, paint brushes, and got to work.  This immediately earned us respect from the non-skating members of the neighborhood who wanted to support us but were a little unsure.  It allowed people to see skaters as simply another part of their community, instead of this insular self-serving special interest group.  But most importantly, it allowed me to take my sheers over to where the Mayor was pruning, and really put him on the spot about what was going on with the skatepark situation.  I think he took me more seriously when I had a giant sharp implement in my hand!

Well here is a very similar opportunity for skaters to show the neighborhood that’s been so supportive and welcoming to them, that they are interested in contributing.  Volunteers are needed to help build the  playground at the Delridge Community Center. Funding depends on the  neighborhood being able to commit a certain number of people.

You should send an email by July 2nd to helpdelridgeplay@gmail.com if  you can help.

Friday, July 17th
6:30 am to 2:00 pm

No special skills are needed, except for an  ability to wake up early and take the day off work, possibly.

There will be edible gardening preparation,  painting, and other fun activities other than strictly building. Come bond  with your neighbors and help improve the area.

There will also be an art wall that they are hoping people will want to help paint.

Please show up and let Delridge know you’re down for more than just yourself.

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According to advocates on the ground, Seattle Parks recently received a public disclosure request from someone in the community along with other NIMBY-type complaints, including the classic “older skaters have hijacked this process in order to build what they want at the expense of what the children need” and “the skatepark footprint encroaches on the surrounding park space”.  At this time, Parks staff have not given the SPAC any inkling of how they intend to respond, but we’ve been here before and it was ugly.

There will be a meeting on Wed July 1st 6:30-7:30 at Dahl Playfield to share the final design of the skatespot that will begin construction this summer.  My guess is that these last-minute opponents will be trying to hijack the meeting with their pointless arguments.

Let’s not forget that this kind of thing stalled Lower Woodland for a year, drained $80K from the park’s budget, and eventually got the park pushed back against the hill where we told them not to put it for various good reasons.  We can’t let this happen again.

Show up to this meeting and help Seattle Parks help you.

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It’ll be interesting to see what Grindline brings to the table since we’re not sure how much money will be available when it comes time to build the park.  Usually designers use a budget number as a design anchor.  There have been rumors of asking the City Council to amend the recently passed parks levy to move the money from the Myrtle Reservoir park to Delridge.  Frankly, after meeting the people that live around that park, I’d prefer not to hang out there.

Show up to this meeting and make sure when the park gets built, you will want to skate it.

——-

NEWS RELEASE
Gregory J. Nickels, Mayor
Timothy Gallagher, Superintendent
www.seattle.gov/parks

For immediate release                                                   January 6, 2009

Contact:         Karen O’Connor  –  206-233-7929
Karen.o’connor@seattle.gov

PARKS TO HOLD SECOND PUBLIC MEETING
FOR DELRIDGE PLAYFIELD SKATEPARK

SeattleParksand Recreation will host the second of three public
meetings for a skatepark at Delridge Playfield on Wednesday, January 14,
2009from 6 – 8 p.m.at YoungstownCulturalArtsCenter.
YoungstownCulturalArtsCenteris located at 4408 Delridge Way SW,
SeattleWA98106. This meeting will discuss the scope of work for the
design of a skatepark at the Delridge Playfield.

The first meeting focused on prioritizing the best location for the
skatepark within the Delridge Playfield. The design consultant will
present proposed site plans and gather ideas from the community in the
second and third meeting.

In June 2006, a host of citizens and city departments, including
SeattleParksand Recreation, the Seattle Department of Transportation,
the Portof Seattleand the SeattleSchool District, nominated 130 sites
throughout the city for the Skatepark Advisory Council to analyze as
potential locations for skate facilities.  The Delridge Playfield was
selected as a park site because it met most of the selection criteria
and because it is already an active site.

For more information visit the web site:
www.seattle.gov/parks/maintenance/DelridgeSkatePark.htm or contact
Parks Project Manager Kelly Davidson at 206-684-0998 or
kelly.davidson@seattle.gov.

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As reported yesterday on the West Seattle Blog, The Delridge skatepark funding is about to get cut out of the budget by the City Council.  As usual, this is a huge blow to skaters in West Seattle, and more potentially bad news for a user group that has seen it’s fair share of disappointments.

The city has a significant budget shortfall largely due to a 30% decrease in property taxes, and it’s looking hard for ways to make up for it.  In times like these, development and acquisitions are often the first things to get shafted, which in general makes sense.  I understand that times are tough, and some difficult decisions need to be made.  But let’s be honest… cutting funds for a free activity for people of all ages during a time when folks don’t have a lot of money to spend on entertainment, seems really short-sighted.

What pisses me off even more, is that skatepark advocates have worked hard to successfully direct a bunch of money into the Seattle Parks Department system, only to have Parks do nothing with it.

For instance, Lower Woodland skatepark was funded via heavy lobbying during the Ballard Bowl debacle, and from a grant that this skatepark advocate personally went to Olympia to ask for.  When the skatepark’s overall size was reduced by Parks in an effort to placate angry Greenlake neighbors, there was over $100K surplus in the skatepark budget on opening day.  Instead of putting in lights, water fountains, or (gasp) paving the path around the park instead of using that pea gravel that gets all over the skate surface, the money just sat unused for so long it has now been earmarked for some other purpose.

Another example is the “skate dot pot”.  This fund was given to the Parks Department by the City Council to build skatedots as outlined by the Citywide Skatepark Plan.  Despite persistent effort made by the SPAC to develop these skatedots, not a single dollar of this money has been spent on skate dots.  The only money that has been used from this fund was a small amount to kick-start the Delridge project, which now looks to be dead in the water.  The only skatedot project that seemed like it might get legs is at John and Summit, a manual pad that Parks mistakenly estimated would cost $10K, is now languishing behind a slow moving Parks effort for months and only seems to even have gotten this far because of constant prodding from skaters.  Every SPAC meeting in the last year has included some discussion with Parks staff about getting the skatedot process going and nothing has happened.

So really…where is the real inefficiency here?  Skaters have been successfully securing funds for Seattle skateparks for a few years now and we’ve built one park.  It’s disheartening to work so hard as an advocate, only to have a lack of action on the execution side toss those hard-earned resources to the wind.  Perhaps we should start taking a close look and find out who is responsible for sitting on large sums of money that were specifically given to them by the City Council to build skateable terrain in this city, only to have those funds squandered and the re-absorbed into some general fund for mowing lawns.  Meanwhile, skatepark projects on the other side of the city can’t get off the ground because of budget cuts?!?  If I was this ineffective at my job I’d be fired, and so would you.

On the positive side, the Parks Levy has passed, which has some funding for skateparks, but not enough for the parks listed in the levy.  The levy funds are really only seed money to be spread over the next 6 years.  The Delridge skatepark process has actually been moving forward nicely with relative Seattle Parks newcomer Kelly Davidson at the helm.  But Delridge is not included in the levy, and looks like it may fall out of funding for the next two years.  The projects in the Levy will also have to undergo the same process that we’ve already begun at Delridge, with great success and overwhelming community support.  In effect, this latest chain of events threatens to set West Seattle skatepark development back another three years, just when we were gaining a genuinely positive momentum that has yet-to-be-seen on a skatepark project in Seattle.

I know we’re living in tough financial times, and that this new development is largely due to factors that lie far outside of the Seattle city government and Parks Department’s ability to make things better.  But things have been so screwed up up to this point that there is no headroom in the system in case of emergency.  What bugs me is that with one hand we’re throwing skatepark money into the fire, and the other hand is begging for more.  I don’t blame anyone for not giving Seattle Parks more money for skateparks when they can’t even spend the bread they’ve been given thus far, especially when there’s a huge budget deficit.

I urge you to write an email to the City Council budget committee today, because time is short.  Explain to them that you feel like we’ve really achieved something special in West Seattle with the Delridge skatepark process, and the community can’t afford to lose this opportunity.  Tell them that we’re engaged in the process, we’ve gained momentum, and that the Parks Department is actually responding to us on this project.  Let’s not throw a wrench into the machine right when it finally seems like it’s working…

Send it to:

Tom Rasmussen

Richard McIver

CC:

Timothy Gallagher

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