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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: