*** Skate-park site raises hackles ***
Seattle, Washington -- 02/01/2006
Green Lake residents rail at
city's switch to Lower Woodland Park
Location, location, location.
That's the problem Seattle Parks and Recreation
is running into as it searches for a spot for a new
skateboarding park in Lower Woodland Park.
On one side are Green Lake homeowners and neighbors
across the street from the latest proposed site and, on the
other, skaters and their parents.
"The first thing I want to make clear is that we're by
no means 'anti-skate,' " said Hans Bjordahl, a Green
Lake resident who has led a group of concerned neighbors
against the latest location, a green space between a soccer
field and a softball field along East Green Lake Way North
between North 55th and North 52nd streets.
The park department previously looked at two other sites
in the area that Bjordahl and other neighbors supported.
They were closer to the woods and a BMX area. They
thought it was a done deal and looked forward to seeing
it break ground.
That optimism quickly soured when he and other neighbors
found out that the latest favored site has moved east -- much
closer to their homes. Supporters of the skate park believe
that four lanes of traffic, a parking lot and trees are an effective
sound buffer. Depending on whom one talks with, the distance
from the proposed skate park to the nearest house is anywhere
from 108 feet to 178 feet.
But for Bjordahl and his neighbors, at the core of their
discontent is the feeling that they've been left out of the
loop in the site-selection process. Signs that could have
alerted them to the changes in the location weren't posted,
and many were not aware of the two public design meetings
held in the fall.
"We totally recognized parks hasn't signed off on this,
but it seems like parks is taking direct orders from Parents
for Skateparks," Bjordahl said. "This is poised to have an
adverse effect on hundreds of neighbors who don't do the
circuit of board meetings."
Dewey Potter, Parks and Recreation spokeswoman,
gave an explanation for the miscommunication.
"Parks did fail to post a sign, which was an oversight for
which we apologize," she said. "It is my understanding
that a mailing went to every address within 300 feet of
the park to notify neighbors of each of the public meetings,
and there was a fourth mailing to notify them of the Park
Board public hearing. The public process is far from over."
The latest site came up, she said, in August after Parents
for Skateparks weighed in and deemed the previous site
too isolated, unsafe and too close to the BMX'ers.
The proposal includes an $850,000 budget for an
approximately 20,000-square-foot skate park in its
initial phase with a variety of terrain for all levels of
skaters. Although some brochures speak of a public
-address system and lights, park authorities said
amplified sound will not be allowed in the structure.
Bjordahl and other neighbors are also upset about the
potential loss of open space and the potential for a much
higher decibel reading from a skate park.
"It's across the street from my house, and I can tell you
firsthand it's heavily used: by sports teams to practice,
spectators to cheer them on, cross-country teams to
host their meets and by residents of the neighborhood
every day," he said. "And in terms of noise, the occasional
cheer from the soccer or softball fields is very different from
the constant clatter and grind of a skateboard park."
Forget soccer moms. Skate moms are intense.
"People tend to connect the sound of skateboarding
on worn sidewalks with the sound of skateboarding
in a skate park," said Kate Martin, a mother of two
teenage skaters. "Urethane wheels on hard-troweled,
mega-smooth concrete is almost without sound. ...
That roar of a skateboard thundering down an old
sidewalk surface with all its pebbles exposed over
time has no correlation to skate-park noise."
Parents for Skateparks don't think the
proposed location is ideal, but it can work.
"When they compare noise generated from the skate park
or any other athletic activity, they're the same. I think the
situation is the fear there's evil children and all this evil stuff
is going to happen, and that's been disproven," Martin said.
"These people own property across from a very intensely
programmed, active recreation area in the busiest park in
Washington state. Skateboarding is more popular than
baseball amongst the kids nationwide. The use of the land
will never become less intense."
For Martin, skateboarding is a pastime that deserves serious
consideration. "This is not Xbox in the basement or myspace.
com ad infinitum or childhood obesity," she said. "This is
strenuous recreation and exercise that is at the same time social."
Written comments will be taken until Feb. 8.
*ON THE WEB
# Green Lake neighbors' site about skate-park proposal:
# Parents for Skateparks:
# Seattle Parks and Recreation site:
All Things Northwest in BMX!
***** Gene`s BMX *****