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Skate-park site raises hackles

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  • geneb
    *** Skate-park site raises hackles *** Seattle, Washington -- 02/01/2006 Green Lake residents rail at city s switch to Lower Woodland Park Location, location,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2006
      *** 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 *****
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