Photo credit: Joel Lee

If you’ve tried to skate the first ever skatepark in Seattle to have lights at nighttime, then you know there is a serious problem: they don’t adequately illuminate the park.  This is in spite of the lighting designer shutting down any questions brought forth during the public meetings with quips like “I am a professional, this is what I do every day.”  There was even a bunch of talk about using LED downlighting that obviously didn’t make it into the final product.  (I almost wonder if this is why the shadows exist…)

It’s great that we finally have a skatepark that is open at night, but it adds a bit of insult to injury to have just enough light to skate, but not enough to actually skate safely.  There are shadows all over the park, and some of them could be dangerous if you weren’t familiar with those areas.  Good luck if it’s your first time skating there.

The good news is that Seattle Parks has gone back to the contractor to get a bid for adding more lights and frankly, for finishing the job they were supposed to do right the first time.  It must be nice to be a contractor with the City of Seattle…if you don’t do it right the first time, they will just pay you again to fix it later.

Anyone want to go in on a contractor’s license?

The schedule for this fix is TBD.  I will post more info as I get it.

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Skateboard Park Advisory Committee

February 13, 2012


Committee Members Present: Ryan Barth, Matthew Lee Johnston, Scott Shinn

Guests:  None

Staff: Susan Golub


Note: The November 14, 2011 SPAC meeting was held concurrently with the final Roxhill skatepark design meeting at the Southwest Library and no minutes were taken.  There was no SPAC meeting in January 2012.


The meeting began at 6:15


Roxhill Skatespot


Kelly Davidson provided the following update via email: I have sent the SPAC bullet list of suggested alterations to California Skateparks and I plan to have a phone meeting them to discuss what may be feasible within the current footprint and budget. We expect 65% construction documents to be reviewed in the next couple of weeks.


Discussion ensued regarding general dissatisfaction with the existing skatepark design and potential remediations.  Ryan noted that a number of features could be changed in subtle ways to improve the overall flow of the park, including small modifications to various transition and street features.  Susan noted that site issues have introduced additional complexity to the process.  Matt asked if there is an internal review process for vendors in the Parks system, and noted that a post mortem discussion of this skatepark project would be desirable upon completion.  Ryan reiterated the SPAC’s initial concerns with the Rob Dyrdek Foundation donation to this skatepark project and California Skateparks’ designation as its sole source vendor, noting that a similar letter to the City will be in order at this time.  Additional discussion ensued regarding the lack of a final design at the final public design meeting, and the need to document this fact for the sake of future skateparks.


Judkins Skatespot


Kelly Davidson provided the following update via email: 65% Construction Documents have been approved. Permit intake meeting will take place next week and project is expected to bid in May and start construction in July.


Hubbard Homestead Skatespot


This project should have begun construction this month, and has been plagued by delays.  Ryan requested follow-up by Susan with Patrick Donohue.  Additional discussion ensued regarding the inadequate status of lighting at Jefferson, the need for communication about this with Patrick to ensure that a quality lighting solution is achieved at Hubbard Homestead.


Jefferson Skatepark


Morris Wainwright recently attended a lighting meeting on behalf of the SPAC with the lighting consultant and Kim Baldwin.  At this time, it appears that there is no consistent standard for skatepark lighting solutions, both locally and beyond Seattle.  Discussion ensued regarding the details of various shadows at Jefferson, the level of light required at this skatepark, the lack of LED lights that were originally expected, and the quality of service being provided by this consultant.  Other than the lighting issue, the new skatepark is great and often packed with skaters.


Summit Slope Skatedot


No news at this time.


Crown Hill Skatedot


The grand opening for Crown Hill Park will occur on May 19th.  Skate Like a Girl (SLAG) and Youth Employment Skateboarding (YES) will be presenting the first in a series of skate clinics at this location in March, initially to the staff of the Small Faces Child Development Center.


Kirke Park Skatedot


Despite a full, levy-funded public process, and a complete design review process, the bids for this skatedot are too high and there is not enough money in the budget to build the skate feature.  It appears that there is something changing in the construction business as well, given that the low bid was $9K and the high bid was $40K.  Construction of the park will begin in May.  Discussion ensued regarding getting some money into this project before May in order to build this feature.  If there are savings from Roxhill, these funds might be available for Kirke.  Ryan to follow up with Kelly Davidson regarding the feasibility of this idea.


Lower Woodland Skatepark


Discussion about the lighting issue occurred, including a NMF grant, and bundling lights with the larger sports field improvement project currently slated to occur within the next 5 years.


Skatepark Activation


Susan reported that Seattle has partnered with SLAG to apply for a $100K Innovations in American Government grant to extend services currently offered by YES.  Discussion ensued regarding permitting for a skatepark clinic series, designated times for skate sessions at parks, excluding other groups of skaters who are not participating in clinics from public skateparks, size limits to clinics, life skills coaching offered by skate clinics, and the community value of paying teen skaters to be counselors at YES clinics.  Additional discussion ensued regarding vendors and commercial interests at skateparks for purposes of promotion, product giveaway, and clinics.


Future Skateparks


Discussion ensued regarding the end of Parks and Green Spaces Levy funding, the recession, the lack of a future funding source for more new skateparks, the Opportunity Fund, the Neighborhood matching fund, maintenance costs, and budget cycle timing.  Scott to follow up with Kevin Hilman regarding the next Opportunity Fund round and the Lake City skatedot campaign.


Matt noted the need to fund maintenance of the existing skatepark system, and establish a fund for future skatepark maintenance.  Discussion ensued regarding this issue, which will become a primary objective of the SPAC in 2012.


Benefit Park


Phase one is complete.  A Small & Simple Grant may also be completed by local advocates for additional features. Kelly Davidson also provided the following update via email:


Funding was from the remaining Skatedot funds. Break down of costs are…

Design $8,911

Construction of bench caps $8,790

Remaining funds $2,500


I just received confirmation that the Seattle Conservation Corps will take on all preparation for the slab on the interior of the curved benches. They have their own funding source to cover that portion of the work.  I will need to find funding to have the concrete poured and finished and to fabricate the pole jam and steel bench. I’m expecting to use the remaining $2,500 toward this and I will need to see where else I can come up with some funds.




The meeting adjourned at 7:25.  The next SPAC meeting will occur on Monday, April 9, 2012, 6PM, 100 Dexter Ave.

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..and…I dunno…they feel pretty uninspired.

Parks has this scheduled to go out to bid in late May, with construction beginning in July.

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Technically not Seattle, but close enough, this report just came in from Brenden in SeaTac:

” New skatepark location is at the Seatac Community Center (13735 24th Avenue South, SeaTac, WA) near the basketball court. Skatepark will be about 6,000sq feet with a 250K budget. The skatepark is being designed by Grindline and while small looks to be really impressive. Last nights meeting had Micah from Grindline  to talk to use about the park and get some ideas on what we would like to see and that park and changes for the final design. About 10 people were there 8 rollerbladers and two younger skateboarders all had really good input into the park. They want to finalize the design this winter and put out to bid early next year so it can be built next summer.”

Even though this is in SeaTac, Seattle skaters should take note because the budget and size of this park is very similar to that of Roxhill, but there is a clear and distinct difference in what Grindline is showing here compared to the 3-5 ideas California Skateparks has been showing throughout the Roxhill process.

My advice to the kids in Gatewood is to start researching the bus routes to SeaTac.



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Newsflash!  There are six skatepark projects currently in development in Seattle! Holy crap!

Roxhill skatespot (West Seattle – link): the fourth and final public meeting is this coming Monday the 14th, from 6-7pm at the Southwest Library (9010 35th Ave SW), which you should attend because the design process thus far has been problematic and has not provided anyone with a clear picture of what exactly will be built.

Jefferson Skatepark (Beacon Hill – link): the park should be open in the first part of December and confirmed that it will have LIGHTS!!!  It is unclear on how late the lights would be on but fingers crossed it is until at least 10:30 or 11pm.

Hubbard Homestead Skatepark (just north of Northgate Mall – link): design is complete and contractor selection should be occurring any day.

Judkins Skatepark (link): design is final and contractor selection should be occurring soon.

Crown Hill Mini Ramp (Crown Hill: link):  The miniramp and adjacent small bank/rail, ledge and perimeter rocks are fully installed and OPEN FOR SKATING.  Grindline did their usually incredible cement work and the miniramp tranny and coping is perfect.

Kirke Park Skatedot (7028 9th Avenue NW – link):  The design is complete and construction should be starting soon.



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Skate Like a Girl does important work, and it’s cool that Nancy and SLAG are getting recognized by Parks for their ongoing effort to build community around skateparks and skateboarding in Seattle.  They especially deserve credit for trying to raise awareness that skateboarding isn’t just for dudes, mostly because it’s true, but also because it helps non-skaters understand that skateparks serve a much larger user group than they probably realize.

Parks gives away an annual Denny Award and this year they are recognizing Nancy, which is awesome.

Congrats to Nancy, Fleur, and all the folks who have helped to make Skate Like a Girl so successful.

Check out the link to the award page at Seattle Parks Website here.

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Hey everyone,

Due to the troubled state of the Roxhill design process, we have decided to move this Monday’s SPAC meeting to the Soutwest Library branch instead of having it at the usual location.  We feel that it’s important for everyone who can possibly make it to attend this third and possibly final design meeting.  So far things have not gone well, and we have yet to see a design that remotely reflects the needs of the site or the feedback presented in the previous three meetings.

The meeting will be from 6-7pm at the Southwest Branch Library:

9010 35th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98126

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Scott has updated his handy overview of the Seattle Skatepark system over at his Parents For Skateparks website.  People have been asking for something like this on this site for ages, so in lieu of having one place to find everything, go there and check it out.

As of 10/16/2011, the total taxpayer cost (not including River City, Marginal or Inner Space) of the Seattle skatepark system AS-BUILT is $5,572,000.  The total square footage of the system (including all skateparks, public and private) is 82,700.  The total cost per square foot  is $67.38.  For more details, please visit our Skateparks page:

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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.

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Skateboard Park Advisory Committee

September 12, 2011


Committee Members Present: Ryan Barth, Matthew Lee Johnston, Nancy Chang, Scott Shinn

Guests:  Keith Strobel, Micah Shapiro (Grindline Skateparks), Joe Ciaglia (California Skateparks), Matt Sivalelli

Staff: Susan Golub, Kelly Davidson

The meeting began at 6:00

Roxhill Skatespot

Joe reviewed the details of the conceptual drawings derived from the first public meeting.  Discussion ensued regarding various details of the skatespot, including the pre-made elements from the Rob Dyrdek Street League contest, plaza area, landscape details, benches, proposed snake run, open space and drip lines of adjacent trees and possible dead end with quarterpipe, bank, or storage area.

Benefit Park

Micah reviewed the details of the Benefit Park skatedot project, including the current site conditions, existing playground features that will be converted into skateable features, current user groups in this space, possible addition of an $18K concrete pad adjacent to the existing skate features with donated features, addition of a corner bank, quarterpipe and hip.  About thirty kids attended the first two public meetings and this is turning out to be a very enthusiastic community group, with a strong possibility of additional fundraising.  This will be a retrofit of an existing park using the skate dot pot.

Judkins Park

Micah reviewed the details of the 110’ x 110’ site that will support an 8-10K skatespot.  Kelly reviewed the extensive details of the WSDOT lease agreement.  The site is located on a fill area, which will preclude a deep bowl.  The features of the site are inspired by the mountains and the sound.  Discussion ensued regarding gathering space, connecting the skatespot to the adjacent park, possible proximity of other parks with snake runs, replacing transition-rich street features with banks, placement of the deathbox, pole jam and flat rail features.  Detailed discussion ensued regarding the mountain signature feature, integration with surrounding features, utility of the proposed opposing transition versus a bank feature, possible pyramid hip in one corner of the park.


Delridge Skatepark

Opens Saturday!


BMX Policy and Culture at Lower Woodland

Matt J. reviewed the status and history of the “no-bikes” policy in Seattle.  Matt S. showed up to represent the BMX community in this discussion, regularly maintains the bike jumps at Lower Woodland, and recently constructed new lines for beginning, intermediate and advanced bikers within that space.  Discussion ensued regarding respect, use of skateparks by bikers, the road bike culture of Seattle, lack of representation by the BMX community in local politics, use of pegs and brakes in skateparks, the new culture and core group of DIY BMX guys at Lower Woodland.  Ryan B. moved to appoint Matt S. to the SPAC as a BMX representative.  Matt S. accepted.  Discussion ensued regarding the “stuck” place that the skateboarding community has been in with regard to its relationship with the BMX community at Lower Woodland, graffiti and the local tagging culture that has developed at the Ballard Bowl, the historic relationship between Parks and the DIY group at Lower Woodland,


The meeting adjourned at 8:00.  The next SPAC meeting will occur on Monday, November 7, 2011, 6PM, 100 Dexter Ave.

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