City debates possible temporary skate park
August 13, 2009
By Tim Pfarr
The Newcastle Parks Commission held an open house July 14 to discuss potentially installing a temporary skate park on Renton Academy property at some point in the next several years.
City officials stressed that at the moment, the park — which would be located at the southeast corner of the intersection of 116th Street and Newcastle Way — is strictly an idea. No decisions have been made, nor have any funds been set aside for the potential project.
City Communications Manager Doug Alder and Parks Program Manager Michael Holly led the discussion and answered questions from community members and individuals from the skating community. Parks Commission member and Kent Risk Manager Christopher Hills was also in attendance to give his advice, as the city of Kent has three skate parks of its own.
Holly said the Parks Commission’s first choice for the location of the skate park was Lake Boren Park, but it was turned down due to its lack of visibility. The second choice was the Renton Academy location. The park would be open from dawn until dusk.
Opinions were split among attendees, and primary concerns regarded the park’s location, cost, aesthetics, security and liability. Some were also concerned that the park would be noisy when in use, as several attendees attested to the fact that temporary skate parks are noisier than permanent ones, which are often made of concrete.
Resident Molly Sandvick said one of her primary concerns is the aesthetics of the potential park.
Resident Robert Sloan said he is concerned with the cost of the park, as well as the possibly rowdy nonskating crowd it could attract from elsewhere. He said he was not at all concerned with Newcastle’s skating community, as he described the Newcastle skateboarders as good kids. He said that a skate park in Newcastle could be great under the right circumstances.
Several other city officials attended the open house.
“I know the arguments for and against every location,” said Councilman Steve Buri, who said he does not believe Renton Academy is the right place for the park, because the distance between the park and neighboring homes could be as little as 175 feet.
“I am concerned about disruptions in those neighborhoods,” he said.
He said other locations — such as the proposed Lake Boren Park location — better lend themselves to a skate park.
Diane Lewis, member of the Parks Commission, said she supports the park, comparing the facilities offered to young children to those offered to teens.
“We don’t do anything for our teenagers, and we need to keep them busy in safe places,” she said.
A group of teenagers with skateboards attended the meeting to support the skate park.
“We need a skate park,” said Mason Buregel, 15, member of the Newcastle skating community. “I see more kids doing drugs behind schools than in skate parks.”
One attendee voiced concerns about potential noise disturbances that could come from early morning skaters if the park were to open at dawn. However, Buregel quickly responded with, “the average skater doesn’t get up until noon.”
City officials said further public discussion is likely in the future.
Reach Reporter Tim Pfarr at 392-6434, ext. 239, or email@example.com. Comment on this story at www.newcastle-news.com.