As Scott reported over on his Parents4Skateparks site over the weekend: after showing a skatepark in all three preferred conceptual designs throughout the process, Seattle Parks has pulled the plug on the Maple Leaf skatepark funding stating that, OOPS!, the location that was being looked at is under the jurisdiction of Seattle Public Utilities and they just found that out. But if the skaters can come up with $120,000 to build a much smaller park on a different, less appealing part of the site, then they’re allowed to try. Wow!
The Maple Leaf site was designated by the citywide skatepark plan as a future skatepark, and there is $5 Million dollars in the budget for re-designing the entire park. Which makes this whole $120K grain of sand feel a little bit like politics as usual.
By all accounts, the Maple Leaf meetings felt a lot like past North Seattle skatepark meetings. A bunch of misinformed, fearful NIMBY rhetoric about the evils of skateboarding, and people advocating for tons of competing uses that take up way more space, aren’t popular with teens, and require facilities that cost more to build and maintain that skateparks. However, there were substantial numbers of skatepark supporters in the meetings as well, and those people are now feeling burnt by the process. Sound familiar to anyone?
What’s even more alarming is this trend of Seattle Parks “discovering” things late in the process that screw the skaters, delay the projects, and in this case…apparently take the skatepark out of the budget. (Which still makes no sense. Is the issue the siting or the budget?!) At Delridge, incorrect information regarding the water table and drainage has had that project in limbo for a year. At Jefferson, between meetings 1 & 2, Seattle Parks discovered that a utility line dissected the site making one of the most popular proposed features, a snake run, completely impossible. By that point the site had already been designated so the whole design was affected, because no sub-grade elements could be placed in over half the park’s footprint.
This is all happening in an environment where an incredible project overhead gets paid to city staffers, for among other things, multiple cycles of review process that is supposed to catch this stuff early and often. If it’s not, then what are we paying for? One thing I know is how we’re paying for it. The city is also hiring big engineering firms to manage these projects, and Maple Leaf is being run by the same people that missed the Jefferson issue. Coincidence, reality of doing business, or just inept laziness?
Regardless of the root cause (*cough* politics *cough*), it looks like the Maple Leaf skatespot will remain mythical unless something drastically changes. But the precipitation appreciation advocates shouldn’t worry…I’m pretty sure that Parks knows who’s jurisdiction the “rain garden” is in. (Whatever the hell that is…)
If you’re concerned and want to voice your opinion, email these people and tell them your butt hurts.