Archive for the “South Seattle” Category

Despite this, this, and the comments here, Seattle Parks is still going to revise the qualifications and put the Delridge construction contract back out to bid.

We didn’t get a response to our letter, or any explanation, so I can’t provide you with any more details.

Despite the likelihood of them lowering the standards by which prospective skatepark builders will be held to, this will also add delays to the already super-late project, and probably some additional cost to the project.  It’s very likely that we could end up with Sahli as the builder, but have just wasted another month on more process.

As details come in regarding the new schedule, the reasoning behind this decision, and what the new qualifications are, you will be the first to know.

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This is why Grindline should always design/build.  Holy crap!

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The only thing I have to say is…AWESOME!  This is totally going to be my favorite skatepark in Seattle.

Thanks to Matt Lawson for taking the photos.

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JEFFERSON PREFERRED CONCEPT (PDF)

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JEff_compOnly 4 months in the making, which relatively speedy by Seattle Parks standards, the Jefferson skatepark design is to be unveiled tomorrow night at 6:45pm.

Three skaters showed up to the last meeting, which would’ve been a great time to get feeedback in, so it should be interesting to see who shows and what goes down.  It’s probably a bit late to get major changes in, but several things came out in the last meeting and in the Grindline forums that may be reflected in the amended design:

  • separating the flow area into two smaller bowls to accommodate more simultaneous skating
  • squaring off the deep end for true vert skating
  • bringing the street section into focus because Seattle needs it
  • the effect of Seattle Parks discovering a huge underground utility line that runs right across the middle of the site, making sub-grade features a no-go in the place that makes the most sense to have them

I’m mostly just curious to see who shows up.  Even though it’s billed as the presentation of the schematic design, changes have been made after the “final” meeting in the past.  They don’t really need to have a meeting to unveil a design, so it should be assumed they want your feedback.  Show up if you care.

The meeting will be held in the usual spot:  Jefferson Park Community Center.

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RCSP gravel baseIt’s happening.  Here’s an update from Mark:

“The park is being built now.  Rough grades, fill, and subgrade compaction are complete.  Gravel underlayment has been placed and Mark Hubbard is onsite this week getting the forms laid out.  One of the folks from Grindline Japan is in town and is supposed to be lending a hand in the coming weeks.  Hopefully the dry weather holds, although we are out of the woods now that the site has passed geotech inspection and properly drains so as to not create ponding in the middle of the site.  Anyone who might have a giant tent to loan would be the biggest hero in the world – let me know if you hear of anything.

We’re looking at 7-9 weeks until the concrete work is complete.  It is nice to finally follow up on the pledges that were made so long ago.  James Klinedint’s tireless work to document the park for permit (TWICE!!!), Hubbard being there for us on and off and on again, Matt Fluegge’s cool hand, Department of Neighborhoods’ cash money, SODO Rotary, NUCOR’s rebar donation, Cadman’s super-discount, and the South Park neighborhoods’ unwavering patience.”

This is huge news and the realization of an amazing grass-roots community skatepark success story.

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hubbrdThere is going to be a new skatepark built in the South end of Seattle, and Grindline will be designing it.

Seattle Parks has a standard process for selecting a skatepark designer, which is a bit funky.  The committee (I was on it) was given the four submissions that qualified, and a worksheet for grading each submission.  What quickly became evident to me was that I was not really grading the designer’s qualifications as much as I was grading their ability to follow directions.

For instance…submittal requirement #3 on the RFP (Request For Proposal) read:

Submittal #3 Requirements:
Project Examples: List (6) of your firm’s most successful projects varying in size from 6,000 to 20,000 SF. Two Examples must be 15,000 to 20,000 SF. Provide drawings and/or photographs. At least (3) must have been built to completion in the last (5) years. Provide completion dates or current phase, a reliable reference name and phone number, and describe the outstanding features and elements of each one.

and the criteria that I was supposed to use to rate each submission by was:

Rating Criteria:
Did the applicant provide a complete response?

Does this submittal demonstrate that the Consultant team has the experience to meet the requirements listed below?
-(5) years demonstrated experience in realizing projects of various size and type.
-expertise in concrete skate park design.
-demonstrated experience in full site design

Does this demonstrate innovation and creativity?

The Parks Department doesn’t need a committee to weed out the firms that don’t submit 6 examples of parks that meet the size and completion date requirements requested. The process made me feel like I was part of some awful standardized testing program for wayward skatepark designers. But then I got to that last line in the criteria:

Does this demonstrate innovation and creativity?

I dunno….do these pants make me look smart?  By the way…what color is your parachute?

This made me feel like I was evaluating the applicant’s ability to follow simple instructions, which felt like it had nothing to do with their ability to design great skateparks, but I completed the exercise as instructed and planned to provide the “anecdotal” portion of my findings to the committee during our discussion.

The meeting was great. Everyone on the committee not only had gone through all of the materials, but we had all come to the same conclusion as to who of the submitting firms should be given the design job: Grindline. However, there was still much to discuss and everyone had reservations.

First off, Grindline is already designing River City, Delridge, and certainly had a hand in Marginal Way. This meant that the entire South end of the Seattle Skatepark system was in danger of having the same flavor. Especially since many people felt like Grindline failed to really push the envelope on the Delridge design, (the only official park that they’ve designed…River City is a private project and Marginal is DIY).  Delridge was thought to be Grindline’s “hometown” coup, and opportunity to create a signature monument to their legacy. This park is a stone’s throw from Butter and the birthplace of Grindline itself, but to this day the design still lacks a signature feature that defines that park as a uniquely-born representation of Seattle’s skatepark heritage, and will be built that way as the design is complete.

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Jefferson skatepark is supposed to be a ‘District’ skatepark as defined by the City-Wide Skatepark plan, something that only two of the four qualifying firms even mentioned in their proposals.  This means that the park needs to be an anchor of that quadrant of the city’s skatepark system.  A “crown jewel” if you will…  Grindline addressed the uniqueness of Jefferson Skatepark’s role in the overall system in their submission, and this part of the document was pivotal in the committee’s decision.   So the question remains, can Grindline produce a design that fits the bill?

Or maybe more importantly…what’s even on the menu?

Dig deep into the projects on the Grindline website and you’ll see tiny sparks of greatness. Check out the igloo at Irrigon, the capsule at Kearney, the spaceship in Okinawa, or whatever the hell this thing is.  But even a lengthy browse through Grindline’s website produces a never-ending gallery of grayness+cradle+flow+stairs+rail+bank= “design”.  One thing is for sure, I remember the first time I skated the volcano at Newberg, saw the simple but elegant “tread lightly” manual cutout at Ed Benedict, or rode the weird stamped-brick, stairs-the-corner, bank laden, turntable-in-the-center Dino-Bowl at Tigard. Seattle tried for something like this with Newline at SeaSk8 but didn’t really get there.

Is it just that skatepark design peaked years ago when the cradle first started appearing?  Is it that city Parks Departments are simply too conservative with all of their safety rules and structural engineering requirements to even allow anything remotely creative and risky in a skatepark design these days?  Does the challenged economy make it hard for these firms to put their more “out there” proposals in front of the public?  Is the public process in big cities like Seattle simply too consensus-driven to allow the designer to have a strong vision for something that no one has ever thought of before?

The original design for the Ballard Bowl replacement.

Geth Noble's original design for the Ballard Bowl replacement.

Or are they simply tired of designing cool stuff that doesn’t end up in the final product for “practical” reasons?

To find out, go to one of the upcoming Jefferson skatepark design meetings and try to suggest an idea that you’ve never skated before.  Or better yet, ask Grindline to show you something they’ve been dreaming of but haven’t been able to build yet.  These guys are talented and something makes me feel like they’re just not being given the opportunity to visualize their dreams.  Instead they’re being asked to fulfill a punch card of what’s within the public’s existing vernacular for what a skatepark is supposed to be.

Regardless of who the designer is, I feel like we’re often shown a slide show of existing parks and asked to formulate a digest of all of the features we see and already know to exist.  In turn, we get a re-working of known quantities, re-packaged in a different format, and sold as “new”.  As stakeholders in the process, and powerful in our numbers, I believe we can influence and change this if that’s what skaters actually want.

But maybe skaters don’t want new designs.  Maybe they’re so desperate for skateparks that they just want something solid and unadventurous.  Maybe Grindline and other well-revered skatepark designers know this and this is why they’re still in business.

But what I ask these skatepark monument designers is this:

When you are long gone from this Earth, how would you like your legacy to be remembered?  Would you like to be known as the person who brought manual pads to the masses, or the pioneer who pushed the art form of skatepark design forward?  Surely not every skatepark design can win an award or elevate the art form, I know there’s a balance, but honestly I think all of the great thinkers in the skatepark design field have either gone underground (where are you Geth?) or been forced into the mainstream.

Perhaps I’m being too cynical.

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It looks like someone forgot to eat breakfast before sitting down in front of Rhino.  At least throw in one of those SeaSk8 bacon strips guys!

Grindline took all of the feedback they gathered from the last meeting, and came up with these delicious new renderings.  Our folks at Parks tell us that these have been vetted through the initial layer of review with the Parks internal design folks, and may only need minor revisions.  Possible problems include the cantilevered slabs (safety), and some minor grading issues.

Features/changes of note include:

  • the deathbox/gap theme
  • the removal of the cool mini-ramp feature to the West of the bowl section
  • the bowl being split into two
  • the missing brick-stamped transition wall around the tree
  • the apparent solution to the “which way to bend the kidney” problem
  • the return of the Bainbridge shallow end (minus the pool block)

The SPAC meeting this Monday will serve as a de-facto feedback session on this new iteration of the design. Feel free to show up to the meeting and provide your input directly, or post it here in the comments section and I will deliver it for you.

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The park will be smaller than originally planned, but this is still amazing news:

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Hello River City partners – We hope all is well for you all.
CONSTRUCTION OF THE SKATEPARK:
We have the permits in hand and will run through a design revision this week to coordinate the construction budget with the money we have in the bank.  We have to scale the park back a bit from what we had originally envisioned, but we feel that it is really of great benefit to the community.  The park will be more of a street park, with concrete benches, level changes, humps, and features that skaters of all ages can use.  Since it is a Grindline park, there will be many ways that one can use it.  When it is very busy, many users will be able to skate at one time. They have revised the design to a “pin wheel” that essentially allows five different sets of groups to skate at once, but it also acts as a continuous snake run that will allow folks at less popular times to connect obstacles all across the park. There will be a small kidney pool (envision a small swimming pool) with open sides that allow visible access and flow into that part of the park.

What this revised vision equates to is a park that is useful to more than just skateboarders. It will be a place to sit and watch that will be accessible to everyone.

Construction will start next week.  Mark Hubbard, James, Matt, and other Grindline folks will be onsite working for the next few months. Please let people know that they can stop and say hi, share tacos, drop off burritos, or say thanks any time.  Don’t hesitate to thank Sea Mar for the land.

We will follow up with a new graphic shortly – we are in triage mode to get the site mobilized and our revisions into the city for a seamless project beginning, but as soon as we have a pretty graphic I will get it out to you (and to the SP library and Neighborhood and Community  Centers).

More soon.
-mark and kim
River City Skatepark

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future advocateWest Seattle Skaters: get ready for another wild ride…

After much consideration and a few site visits, Seattle Parks has decided to proceed with a design process for a skatepark at Delridge Playfield.

Last week, Skatepark Advisory Committee Chair Ryan Barth and I met Seattle Parks Staff at High Point playfield to discuss a skatepark at that site, following up on the feedback from neighbors at the Myrtle meetings who wanted the skatepark built there instead of in their neighborhood. Kevin Stoops showed me what I already knew would be the only spot we could put the park, which is not big enough for the $725K park that they want to build in West Seattle. The entire site is already packed pretty tight with heavily programmed sports fields, with the exception of the treed area in the SW corner. Skaters love trees too, and we don’t want to tear them out, so we were basically looking at the small space between the trees and the pathway. By my estimation, this space is barely big enough for a 2500 sq/ft skate spot. Nestling the skate spot into that hillside, because the grade is so steep (look at the tennis courts…) they would have to build a retaining wall around it which would block sight lines and be expensive to build.

In essence: the site is a bad choice for a skatepark. I am disappointed that it even made it into the Skatepark Plan.

So then the question was: which site on the CityWide Skatepark Plan would be able to accommodate West Seattle’s first proper skatepark?

The only site in the citywide skatepark plan I thought would work based on existing uses and available space is Delridge playfield, so we drove over there and checked it out. There’s plenty of room to set it back from the street and give the folks in the homes across the street a little buffer zone. There’s a community center, and a big open area that is not currently programmed. There is also a teen program at the community center whose director is very excited about the idea of a skatepark to program. The downsides are that the neighbors across the street will be upset, but that’s always the case. Also, there aren’t as many families living right around the site, and there aren’t as many bus lines running by Delridge. But because this was the only site in all of West Seattle that had a large un-programmed space in it, I recommended that Parks consider Delridge for the $725K skatepark, and put High Point on a list for a future skate dot or small skate spot.

They took the recommendation back to Superintendent Gallagher and it was approved by the executive staff. So, Seattle Parks is moving forward with the design process for the Delridge location, and will be pursuing funding for the construction during the next budget cycle. Finding a design consultant could take a month, at which point a series of public meetings will be scheduled to gather input. If everything goes as planned, West Seattle skateboarders could be skating in a new park by the end of 2009, but the key step that has yet to happen is finding the actual construction dollars to build the park.

Keep checking back for meeting dates and future opportunities for supporting this new West Seattle skatepark.

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