Northwest NEWS

November 26, 2001

Front Page

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Woodinville Skate Park: Where is it now?

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   They perform amazing acrobatic feats on their skateboards. They skid, slide, jump, leap and fly over and onto obstacles with mesmerizing action.
   They seem to defy the law of physics, executing flips, hops and complex turns. The tricks look difficult, but locating a place to master the tricks has been even more difficult for Woodinville's skateboarding teens.
   Few have backyard ramps. Jumping stairs or curbs at the strip malls isn't safe or legal. There just isn't a place in Woodinville reserved for skateboarding, as well as BMX bicycling and in-line skating.
   That will soon change.
   The city of Woodinville plans to construct a skate park across the street from Woodinville High School (WHS). The park will be part of a larger parcel of property called the Little Bear Creek Corridor which will comprise a future lineal park with trails, viewpoints and interpretive facilities. The skate park site takes up an acre of the corridor and it sits adjacent to Northeast 195th Street.
   "That doesn't mean the whole site will be used for a skate park," says Cole Caplan, teen coordinator for Woodinville's Parks Department. The reason it isn't clear how much of the one-acre site will be used for a skate park as the city is still in the early stages of planning the park's development.
   According to Caplan, everything is still on the table for discussion. For example, what kind of ramps will the park have? Concrete or wood? This is just a sample of the questions yet to be decided.
   "There hasn't been a commitment to any design element at this point," says Caplan.
   The city hired Leslie Wiscomb of Wiscomb Landscape and Architectural Services to design the 18-acre lineal park, which includes the skate park.
   The Seattle-based firm was formerly approved Oct. 15 by the City Council after recommendation from the Skate Park Task Force. In the first order of business, Wiscomb brought in two consultants, Scott Yamamura and Fish Johnson, to assist in the skate park design.
   Wiscomb and the two consultants wanted to meet with the teens and hear their ideas and suggestions for the park's design. "The designers essentially want to be told how and what the park should be," says Caplan.
   Skateboarders and in-line skaters had the chance to tell them on Nov. 13. On that day, they discussed their concept for the park with the designers.
   Then, on Nov. 14 BMX riders had their opportunity to talk with the designers about the elements they'd like the skate park to have.
   In both meetings, BMXers and skaters built mini-skate park models out of clay so that the consultants would have a visual display of what the teens had in mind.
   The teens also presented the designers with drawings and photos of skate park designs they'd like to see in Woodinville's skate park.
   Yamamura and Johnson identified what would work and what wouldn't. Both men have experience in developing numerous skate parks in other western states and offered their suggestions and ideas.
   Taking the teens' wishes into account, Wiscomb, Yamamura and Johnson are now in the process of coming up with a skate park design. On Dec 4, the group will bring their design back to the teens for feedback.
   At that time, they'll meet also with those who have interests in BMX riding and in-line skating, as well as all interested citizens, and ask, "What do you think?"
   Says Caplan, "In many ways it will be finalizing the design."
   The City Council has reserved $240,000 in the 2002 Capital Improvement Plan, with $175,000 for construction. Parking, lighting, restrooms and other considerations will impact the size and complexity of the skate park.
   Once the park's design is decided, the cost of the project will become clearer as materials needed for construction are known, such as will the park have concrete or manufactured objects? Also, before the project can go forward, there are other questions that need answers: Should there be an admission fee? Should helmets be required? Should recreation be supervised?
   One thing is known at this time: Teens want the park. "You can really see the push that it's something they want," says Caplan. "It provides an option they don't have.
   Many in the community support the idea of a skate park. Vicki Puckett, Woodinville High School principal says, "I do feel a strong need for the park."
   She explains that the high school currently has issues with students skateboarding on the school campus after hours because of the liability for the school district. The park, she says, will provide a space for teens to engage in a constructive activity that's fun. She mentions that supervision issues could present a challenge for the high school and that traffic issues are a concern. Even so, Puckett sees the park as a benefit to the community and is impressed with the Parks Department. "One of the things I've been impressed with is that they include students with the decision making."
   In fact, students have been involved with the decision process since 1999 when the first notion for a skate park began.
   Students from local schools, such as Leota and Timbercrest junior high schools, initiated surveys to identify the community's desire for a skate park. Taking the lists of citizens' names they had acquired, the teens met with Cindy Shelton, recreation supervisor, to discuss the need for a skate park.
   Later, the Skate Park Task Force formed, made up of 50 percent teens and 50 percent adults, including Woodinville's and SeaTac's parks directors, a parks commissioner and the police.
   In 2000, the task force sent a list of recommendations to the City Council.
   The skate park's estimated start date for construction is not set at this time, as the date depends on the permitting process and a number of other elements. When completed, though, the park will welcome skaters of all age levels. "It will be a community park," says Caplan. "It will be open to anyone and everyone."
   The Dec. 4 meeting to finalize the consultant's skate park design will be held at the Woodinville Community Center at 6:30 p.m.
   For further information, contact Cole Caplan at: colec@ci.woodinville.wa.us or call (425) 398-9327, Ext. 2288. Or visit www.ci.woodinville.wa.us/events.asp.