Today we received a response from Parks Superintendent Chris Williams regarding our request to reject the Dyrdek donation for Roxhill skatepark, which is fully funded and doesn’t need the donation.  As you can see, his response suggests very little reflection on the issues, and by his own admission, both paragraphs contain information we already knew:

June 27, 2011

Ryan Barth

Skate Park Advisory Committee

Dear Mr. Barth,

On behalf of Mayor McGinn as well as Seattle Parks and Recreation, thank you for your ongoing interest in the design of the Roxhill and Judkins skateparks and the donated services to be provided by California Skateparks.

As you know, the Rob Dyrdek Foundation has made a donation to the City of Seattle such that California Skateparks will design the Roxhill Skatepark and incorporate certain terrain features from the recent Street League event at Seattle Center at no cost to the City. The value of this donation is expected to be over $100,000. This donation is substantial and we believe it will be a positive contribution to the Roxhill project.

I understand that both Kelly Davidson and Kevin Stoops talked to you on June 23 to tell you that we intend to enter into a no-fee design contract with California Skateparks to provide for this work. As such, the consultant selection this week will only address the selection of a designer for the Judkins skatepark.

If you have any further questions on this, please contact Kelly Davidson at kelly.davidson@seattle.gov

Sincerely,

Christopher Williams

Acting Superintendent, Seattle Parks and Recreation

 

As I see it, here are the core issues with this decision:

Seattle Parks is locking out community input by skipping the process that allows for it, and therefore, disenfranchising the stakeholders.

By accepting this donation and granting a sole source design contract to California Skateparks, Seattle Parks is subverting the public process that provides an opportunity for the community input.  This process was already underway, and California Skateparks was ranked last by the panel.  I know this because I am a part of it.  What’s worse is that there are community members on the panel as well who feel like they are being forced to settle for less on this project in exchange for a donation that was not needed, as this project was already fully funded.  By awarding this sole source design contract, Seattle Parks is allowing a private entity to effectively bypass the process that is supposed to ensure quality results, unbiased awarding of city contracts, and encourage stewardship and engagement by the community.

Seattle Parks is applying this donation to a fully funded project that doesn’t need it, instead of directing it toward a project in another community that does.

This just seems like bad resource allocation.  There was absolutely no outreach from Parks to the SPAC on this project, so we have no idea why Roxhill was selected as a recipient for this donation, but it seems completely arbitrary.  Roxhill simply does not need the funding because it is fully funded by the Parks For All Levy funds that skateboarders lobbied hard for.  Meanwhile, there are 20 other sites designated by the Citywide Skatepark Plan that currently have no funding.  The Mayor and Seattle Parks have already been clear about any surplus funds going back into the general fund, which we understand is policy.  This park doesn’t need the donation, while 20 others do.
We respectfully ask:  why is Seattle Parks so adamant about applying the donation here in exchange for the lowest ranking designer in the pool of submissions, when other parks could literally live or die by these resources?
We’re not against a Dyrdek street plaza being built in Seattle.  We’re just against taking skatepark money we already fought for out of the budget for an existing project, when we could be building this thing in a community that actually doesn’t have a project underway.
We’re pursuing a follow-up with the City Council and local press to see if we can convince Parks to take another look at this.
Stay tuned.  Keep skating.
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