Six years ago, three teenage boys arrived at a South Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA) meeting looking haggard and asking for a place to stretch out on their skateboards without being hassled. Previously marginalized due to their age and inadequate skating accommodations, the teenagers were finally granted their skating sanctuary.

The SPNA responded to their plan to create a skateboard in South Park. And now, after a long grueling process, the skate park will open as soon as the finishing touches are completed. Through donations and volunteer labor this park has grown into a glowing achievement for the South Park skateboarding youth and greater South Park community. Read this Seattle PI story from 2006 after news broke that South Park would get a skate park.

Implementing great ideas takes a great amount of effort. The River City Skate Park has been no exception. Since its inception, very little of the process has gone smoothly. A litany of events has occurred including rafting and re-drafting the park five times to fit city requirements, a stolen CAT machine, persistent rains, budget constraints and miscommunications, mud, and ever-pervasive knotweed. Despite these unexpected surprises, hundreds of people have rallied behind the skate park supporting it through creative and improvised ways. Fundraising efforts included a punk rock show in South Park, winning a highly sought after Tony Hawk Foundation grant, support from the city of Seattle, local businesses, and in-kind donations from Grindline, a skate park construction company, and proceeds made by an event hosted by ECOSS.

Grindline completed the construction this fall. They are known worldwide in places like Japan, Israel, and British Columbia. Their South Park design includes a nod to Mother Nature and Green Man, the four volcanoes, spectator seating, an Aztec sundial calendar center piece, and the purposeful alignment of the body of the park. It’s a hypnotizing design, pleasing to the eye as well as a good ride for skateboarders of all levels. Beginners will find the shallow alleyways easy to maneuver while more advanced skaters can test themselves by scaling up the walls, avoiding doorways propelled by the sheer force of gravity and skill.

Only final touches remain to be completed on the park. People who are interested in joining the River City Skate Park efforts can contact Kate Thibault at (206) 767-043 or . It’s been a long road, but everyone – funders, planners, construction workers, skaters and the neighborhood – are ready to put the park to use.

More information is on the River City Skate Park website.

Neighborhood News, South Park