Design refined for new skate park, basketball court

Grindline Skateparks last week revealed its computer-generated design for a new skateboard park and basketball court to replace the ones closing down next year at the Seattle Center.

The old facility off Fifth Avenue North near Mercer Street has to go to make room for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which plans to build its world headquarters on the Seattle Center parking lots, said Kim Baldwin, a landscape architect managing the project for Seattle Parks and Recreation. "This gives us the opportunity to redesign the skate facility and perhaps make it better."

The proposed new location is next to the King County Combined Sewer Overflow pump station in the 500 block of Elliott Avenue West, a move Parents for Skateparks objects to in no uncertain terms.

Instead, the skateboard-advocacy group has called for the new facility to be located on the school-district-owned parking lot next to Memorial Stadium.

That seems unlikely, according to city sources, and a Parents for Skateparks flyer handed out at the public meeting where the design was unveiled seems to acknowledge that.

"If we can't have a skatepark near Seattle Center and must move it to 545 Elliott, then let's do it right," the flyer states.

The public meeting last week was the second of two. At the first meeting, there were requests that both street-skating and bowl-skating elements be incorporated into the new park, said Micah Shapiro from Grindline.

"So our solution to that was to build a backyard pool element," he said, adding it won't take too much room away from the street-skating area. That's good, Shapiro said, because the majority of skaters in Seattle right now are street skaters.

The Grindline design - which can still be tweaked - features a kidney-shaped bowl near Elliott Avenue, a much-larger street-skating area near the railroad tracks and a basketball court oriented north and south to prevent players from being blinded by the sun.

In addition, skateable, 8-foot-wide asphalt walkways are part of the design, along with picnic tables, benches that can be skated on and a parking lot with 17 spaces. Open space will be hydroseeded with grass.

A water-retention pond covered in three feet of gravel will remain on the site, and the existing entrance to what was a construction-staging area for the pump station project will be retained.

Plans also call for the possible future construction of a restroom on the site. In the meantime, portable toilets will be used, Baldwin said. "Lights is another item on the wish list," she added.

Parents for Skateparks had different ideas. Among other design features, the parents group would like to see shared parking with the fenced-in county pump station.

"They said no," Baldwin said of the county's response to the idea. "If they allowed it to be open to public access, they really don't know how they would secure it."

The parents group also called for putting an off-leash dog area on the site, saying it would promote "more eyes on the park." Scott Shinn from the group proposed another idea at the meeting. "Maybe the basketball court could be moved down the street," he said.

He wasn't the only one at the meeting who thought a basketball court was out of place, but Baldwin noted the city has to replace both the skateboard park and the basketball court as part of a package deal. "It's really pie in the sky," she said of hopes for finding another piece of city property for a basketball court.

Parks has $900,000 budgeted for the new facility, and Shinn said he thought everyone involved was doing a fine job with the resources available. "But the resources they have for this project are inadequate," he complained. "I think one solution we're proposing is phased construction."

That may not be possible. Construction on the new facility is set to begin next June, which is the same time the old skateboard park will be demolished. "But with the budget we've got, this is what you get," Baldwin said.

The meeting last week was the last public meeting. The next step is having the Board of Park Commissioners review the plans at a public hearing in late October, Baldwin said.

The Seattle Design Commission also will review the plans, and construction is set to be completed by next fall or winter, according to the Parks Department time line.

Staff reporter Russ Zabel can be reached at or 461-1309.[[In-content Ad]]