Home Sweet Home

The Tukwila Community Center is an award-winning recreational center point for Tukwila, Wash., a town of about 17,000 located just south of Seattle. But how would legions of teenage skaters pan out at a place that typically serves businesses, families and seniors?

The community center — which includes a large indoor recreation and conference center, baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts, picnic areas and playgrounds — was not the first choice for a skatepark.

The school district didn’t want the skatepark adjacent to its property, so that possibility was taken off the board, though at the time these adjacent school properties were seen as the most ideal by the parks and recreation department.

Location Connection

Other areas were taken out of consideration for various reasons. Tukwila’s parks and recreation director, Bruce Fletcher, notes a number of different factors that point to a poor skatepark location…

First, it has to be close to infrastructure, including telephones, restrooms and transportation. It’s best not to place one that’s in the middle of nowhere with poor access.

Second, it has to be visible. Put a skatepark in a place that’s hidden from public view and anyone who wants to exploit the location for shady reasons — be it drug dealing or general rowdiness — will.

Finally, Fletcher says that you don’t want it right in the middle of a business or residential area. Close to one of these areas is usually okay, but you want to avoid being right next to someone’s house or business.

Also, you have to get public notice out to any neighbors and take into account the noise factor, though Fletcher says the noise of skates on a pre-manufactured surface is minimal.

“When we first started the process and wanted it on school district property a school board member suggested we put it at the community center, thinking there was no way in Hell that the city would put a skatepark at this award-winning community center,” says Fletcher.

“When we couldn’t find a place and the frustration started to build in the kids, it was time to put our money where our mouth was. The reason it could have been a tough decision is because we had our kids, our seniors and tons of business rentals at the same place, so there was the element of, ‘Gosh, what if this doesn’t work?’ But it’s all worked out. I’ve had zero complaints come across my desk from a senior or renter saying the kids are out of control.”

Self-Policing Park

Also currently in the zero category is the amount of money the city’s paid to remove graffiti or fix vandalism. Since the park’s opening last May, Fletcher says, “We’ve had only good experiences… It’s amazing. Some of that’s small town, but the kids bought into this as their park. We told them that if we have problems we can close it and lock it. The kids took it seriously. They pick up the litter and they police it.”

Though Fletcher says the kids’ ownership is the number one factor that has kept the skatepark clean and problem-free, it does have the benefit of an eye in the sky.

Perched atop an adjacent picnic shelter is a Web cam that allows any police officer, staff member or parent to view the skatepark on-line (www.ci.tukwila.wa.us/recreation/recskate.htm).

Fletcher says it’s well-used and jokes, “I use it when I’m planning on riding my motorcycle into town to see if it’s raining there.”

The skatepark sits between the community center, the parking lot, baseball fields and a picnic area in a central hub. The tennis courts were taken out and retrofitted to accept the equipment — a portable, pre-manufactured system by Huna Designs.

It’s 6,000 square feet and features quarter pipes, ramps, grinding rails, fun boxes and other jumps and obstacles. It’s unsupervised and skate-at-your-own risk.

Bikes are not allowed because of safety concerns and the insurance authority wouldn’t allow it. Fletcher says he would like to do a separate bike park, but hasn’t had a lot of demand for it. Fletcher adds that in-line skaters are allowed and the interaction between boards and skates has not been a problem.

“Once we decided that we were going to have it there, it took us literally three months to get it purchased, installed and opened,” says Fletcher.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Feeling Minnesota
  2. Home Sweet Home
  3. Blending Boards
  4. Creating A Skatepark
  5. Master Plan
  • Columns
  • Departments