Posts Tagged “Delridge”

Early morning is the time to go to Delridge, if you can. There were only 3 other people there this weekday morning at 9am. Great for beginners and/or, ahem, folks like me who have been skating for almost 20 years but REALLY need to focus.

Grindline was there fixing  the sidewalk that was torn up from the construction. It’s gonna be nice. I appreciate a good sidewalk. Now that we have a great skate park, I think it’s important to 1. connect the parks  for pedestrians/skaters and 2. make it safer to get there.

Building a great public space (aka: skatepark) is not just about the skateable features within the concrete footage, but following it all the way through – improving the space around it to make it easily accessible for all and creating a strong infrastructure that will last for generations.

There is so much to learn and think about when it comes to living in the city. Being able to focus on skate parks has been a great lesson and now… maybe I can tackle the rest, as overwhelming as it can be.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be take action on all the challenges, but I do know that now I’ll be able to warm up on my way to the skate park on the next early morn.

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Yesterday I lied.

I said you’d be the first to know when I heard more news, but the WSB posted something yesterday (it’s worth reading, the comments are great).  To be honest, I was too frustrated and angry to write anything cogent.  I’ve been working within the Seattle public process as a volunteer skatepark advocate for almost 9 years now, and it’s definitely been getting better over the last few years.  Seattle Parks has gotten into the habit of building these parks on their own accord, which is a complete turnaround from trying to remove the Ballard Bowl and not replace it with anything.  But this recent Delridge stuff, my friends, is an unfortunate return to the classic Seattle Parks of 2004.  When autocratic decisions came from out of nowhere, seemed to conflict with previous Parks decisions, communication was vague, and somehow you always felt like you were getting schemed on.

Here’s the letter we got in response, for those who missed it:

From: Kevin Stoops
Seattle Parks Department

Earlier today we decided to reject all bids for the Delridge Skatepark and rebid this project later this year or early next year for mid-2011 construction.

This decision has been reached after a review of the very restrictive supplemental bidder qualifications that were issued by addendum to the original project requirements.  These focused on volume of work rather than  specific construction requirements to complete the work, and are unnecessarily restrictive.  the project will be re-bid with clearer contractor qualification requirements outlined in the construction documents.  The design of the skatepark will not be changed.

Further, issuance of a construction contract involving excavation and concrete work at this time of year will be problematic was we are now ready to enter a wet rainy period for some time.  The construction window for such concrete work is already rapidly coming to an end for 2010 and an extremely wet winter is forecast.   Starting construction in the face of such would likely lead to unintended site costs due to wet conditions.

My first observation is that Mr. Stoops is standing behind the position that the qualifications were “very restrictive”.  It’s very telling that the word “restrictive” is even being used here.  These qualifications are only restrictive if you’re an unqualified contractor or a Parks Department that’s trying to hire one.  It’s an “empowering” set of qualifications for skateboarders, and skatepark design/build artisans.  It’s “defensive” for anyone who’s skated a park that’s been built by an unqualified builder.  It’s “comforting” for someone who is concerned about the quality of the product that their tax dollars are going toward.  The use of that word sheds light on where the Parks Department is coming from on this issue, that’s for sure.

We also sent Mr. Stoops five examples from other cities that were almost identical to the Delridge RFQ.  That should’ve at least been proof that these “restrictions” were not unprecedented.  We sent him a case study from one city where they wished they had “restricted” themselves to a more qualified contractor because their park is now needing repair less than 3 years after it was built.  We also detailed in a very long letter, all of the reasons why skateboarders feel the qualifications are warranted and fair.  I’m not sure why our opinions aren’t being addressed, but they aren’t, most certainly not in his written response.  I understand why these people need to be careful with what they say in public statements, but to not address the very well thought out case that we presented to them leaves too many questions unanswered, and leaves a group of passionate volunteers feeling grossly dismissed.

It’s also somewhat puzzling that he refers to a lack of “specific construction requirements” as another reason for this move, as the SPAC has consistently been told by Parks that we were not allowed to use specific construction requirements because it was too restrictive.  We’ve repeatedly tried to include more specific language in these RFQ documents, and have always been told that those types of requirements were rejected by the legal staff and higher-ups.  The existing and now-controversial qualification language is a product of several rounds of more specific language being rejected by Seattle Parks as inappropriate.  Every single RFQ that I’ve seen go through internal Seattle Parks iteration gets less specific, not more.

Hopefully these new “clearer” requirements will shine some light on what exactly is kosher when it comes to these requirements, because right now it’s completely unclear what is and what is not appropriate at this point.

But the subject of the second paragraph of Mr. Stoops’ letter is what you should really be worried about: schedule.

Is the Parks Department trying to torpedo the skatepark?

The issue of construction costing more during Winter doesn’t make sense, especially if they want to hire Sahli.  Sahli built Lower Woodland over the exact same seasonal timeframe, and even though it took forever, there were very few overruns if any.  I’m not sure what “unintended site costs” he’s referring to, but he only needs to look at Seattle Parks’ last Sahli skatepark project to refute his own assertion.

More worrisome is the bigger budget concerns throughout the city.  The City Council and Mayor are in the midst of a painful budgeting process right now that’s producing some unsavory “solutions”, like laying off librarians and shutting down wading pools to pinch pennies.  Parks staff are already taking furlow days, and sources say that some Parks folks have already been notified of impending layoffs.  So I’m sure it’s irritating to someone who’s facing these difficulties on a daily basis to hear some skateboarders advocate for spending $70K on quality craftsmanship.  But delaying the project essentially leaves money lying around, increasing the risk to the project itself, and threatening a much larger investment of everyone’s time, community effort, and the future value of having a skatepark in a community that really needs it.  So in essence, to save $70K, Mr. Stoops is risking the entire budget of the project ($750K + volunteer time, effort, delays, etc…) by allowing it to linger around without a contractor for another 4-5 months.

In the bigger picture, can this project really suffer another delay?  My first post about this project was on June 5th, 2008.  Since then the funding has disappeared and reappeared once already.  So based on Mr. Stoops’ estimated timeline, this project will have taken over three years to complete, and this is in the most supportive community a Seattle skatepark has ever been introduced to.  I truly think the bigger picture is lost on people like Mr. Stoops and the people he reports to.  Sometimes they seem to lose sight of the impact they’re having on real people’s lives.  This isn’t just another project on a planning roadmap to the kids who live near the site and came to all the meetings.  This is something they go to sleep at night thinking about.   A kid that was in 9th grade when the first meeting happened will almost be graduating from high school when the park is finished.

That. Is. Broken.

The estimated date we got back for rescheduling, re-budgeting, and re-writing the qualifications is October 25th.  Watch this space for more details.

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5b-big

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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Photo credit:  West Seattle Blog

Photo credit: West Seattle Blog

It’s still very early, and none of this is set in stone yet, but SPAC Chair Ryan Barth and I met with Tim Gallagher and Susan Golub from Parks yesterday to discuss funding for the Delridge Skatepark.

As the WSB reported a few weeks ago, the Parks Board announced that several projects had bids that came in way under projections, and that there would actually be a surplus of funds available.  They said they would be interested in using these funds for the Delridge skatepark, and yesterday the Superintendent confirmed that this was what could happen if skaters can generate enough support amongst the Parks Board.  Right now, the funding they are thinking about allocating to Delridge is $500K, but there is more available.

It may surprise you, but that’s not enough to construct a park the size of a typical Skatespot as defined by the Citywide Skatepark Plan.  So the next step may be to shift the Myrtle Reservoir skatedot funding from the Parks For All Levy to Delridge.  If you’ve been following skatepark advocacy in Seattle at any point over the last few years, you know that a few loud voices came out to the Myrtle Reservoir meetings and scared Parks enough to put the skatedot plans for that site on hold.   It will take City Council approval, but this seems likely to happen based on my experience and a good line of communication between skatepark advocates and the City Council.  The amount currently designated for the Myrtle skatedot is $250K.

The remaining issue, which has been ongoing for a while now, is the overall size of the Delridge skatepark.  The Superintendent told me yesterday that the amount of funds that would be pulled from the surplus would be gauged by the size of the park being designed.  The problem with this is that the size of the park was reduced to 10K sq/ft because they didn’t know what the construction budget was going to be.

So now we’re in a position where we’re being allocated money based on a design that was based on the fact that we didn’t have any money!

I’ve been beating this drum for a while now, and was afraid this would come back to bite us.  What we need to do right now is to start making our case to Parks and the Parks Board that the skatepark’s size was determined in the absence of a construction budget, and needs to be re-evaluated now that funding is available.  This needs to happen before the design process is complete, which is in essence, next week.

Here’s why Delridge needs to be larger:

  • This park will be West Seattle’s first and only skatepark for sometime, and there are a lot of skateboarders in West Seattle.  This 10K sq/ft park will quickly become crowded and overrun, creating safety issues for skateboarders, and putting undue pressure on the facility’s surroundings.
  • There is some room to expand the design, not drastically mind you, but there is potential for 4-6K sq/ft of additional space that would make a huge difference.  We’re not asking for the world here.  This request is reasonable.
  • The design is somewhat cramped by the 10K sq/ft limitation set by Parks on this site.  Skateboarders would greatly benefit from a less condensed design, with more room to spread out.  The community would also benefit by having a more aesthetically pleasing and better integrated skatepark.

I will be making these points at the next SkatePark Advisory Committee meeting, which is on Monday the 11th, at 7pm, in the Parks HQ at 100 Dexter. Superintendent Gallagher will be there, along with the Delridge Project Manager Kelly Davidson, and Planning Manager Kevin Stoops.  This will be a great time to give Kelly the community support she needs to add some needed square footage to the design, by making some public statements during the meeting.  There will also be a committee vote on whether or not the Myrtle funds should be diverted to Delridge.

There will also be a representative from the committee that is working on an impressive piece of skateable public art for the skatepark, to report on that project’s progress.

This is an important meeting for the Delridge Skatepark!

Please consider coming to the SPAC meeting to show your support, and drag along other folks from the community to join you.

Thanks!

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Hey look!  It’s good news!

The West Seattle Blog just reported this in thier wind-up from the Parks Board meeting last night:

“Bids for parks projects are coming in under budget — including Hiawatha Playfield artificial turf and track improvements (9 bids, it was noted tonight, all below the engineer’s estimate of $1.6 million, one as low as $1.1 million!). With this climate for bids, the Parks Department has new hope for unfunded projects, including the Delridge Skatepark, which is said to be #1 on the list. Design of the skatepark – set for the northeast corner of the park next to Delridge Community Center – had proceeded, but construction money didn’t make it into the city budget – even before the latest round of cuts and revenue-forecast revisions. We’ll follow up on what tonight’s news means for the project.”

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