Northwest NEWS

March 20, 2000

Front Page

Skate park hearing draws vocal crowd

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--Skateboard and BMX bike enthusiasts crowded the Woodinville City Council chambers on Mar. 13 to convey preferences and perspectives on what they would like to see incorporated into the City's proposed skate park. City officials wanted to hear testimony on the possible need to include bikers in the skate park plans, and stressed finding a suitable site as the primary objective for the project.

   Bikers and skaters agreed that a covered, lighted, shared-use park with some stationary and some movable components would be ideal for both dry-surface sports. The two groups also said they preferred to share the park at all times, rather than stipulate time and day blocks for each group.

   BMX bikers said they have been "treated like criminals" at various skateboard parks, and that the nearest public track for jumping bikes is in Salem, Oregon.

   "It's an honor to speak before the City Council, and I think it's great that you are considering a park for both sports," said Ewon Day, BMX biker from Woodinville. "I had a bad experience at the Bothell (skateboard) park, and will never go back. It's important that adults realize children live here and need to be represented. Alternative sport athletes need facilities just as much as traditional sport athletes, or they will do 'other things.'" Dan Montgomery was one of the Bothell bikers present who also appreciated Woodinville's plans to include bikers.

   Deputy Mayor Marsha Engel, who first championed the skate park proposal, asked the task force about the ideal size of a park. She said she visited a large one in North Bend, but thought Redmond and Kirkland parks would be too small for both sports.

   Manny Navarro, owner of Woodinville Cycle and member of the task force, said the Bothell skateboard park is the perfect size--it was built on two former tennis courts. He said wood ramps offer the advantage of being mobile.

   Roger Oppen and his son, Matt, a task force member, have visited the Salem bike park. Roger said Salem bikers moved the ramps around to create variety in skill-level challenges.

   Some park owners recommend side-by-side parks to accommodate both sports, said Cindy Shelton of Woodinville's Parks & Recreation Dept. and head of the Skateboard Park Task Force. Bikers also need more space between jumps, said Liz Aspen, Parks Commission and task force member.

   One skateboarder said he preferred cement ramps. Day said he personally prefers wood ramps for bikes, but thought a park could easily combine cement ramps with movable wood ramps. Day warned that bikes can cause undue wear on wood ramp edges, but that adding metal edges can solve that.

   Councilmember Don Brocha said his son spent years waiting for a skate park, but is now an adult and has left the community. He recommended that the city plan the park to include both sports, rather than make bikers wait, possibly years, for their own facility. The rest of the Council agreed.

   Mayor Randy Ransom asked the task force to do further research on various types of parks, and return with a report on how both groups might best be accommodated.