Skateparks parents assess potential site for skaters

King County Council president Larry Phillips last week touted land next to a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project in the 500 block of Elliott Ave. W. as the possible location of a new skateboard park to replace one that will be lost when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sets up shop at the Seattle Center.

The CSO project is designed to prevent untreated sewage from being dumped in Lake Union and Elliott Bay when storm water overwhelms the system, he said. "This has been a 40-year project and it's been very expensive."

But the facility doesn't take up all of the property, which presents the opportunity to add recreational uses to the mix. "You don't get very many sites like this very often," noted Phillips, who added that a lot of kids are interested in the possibility.

So are members of Parents for Skateparks, a couple of whom toured the site last week. "We're really excited about the direction the city is taking," said Scott Shinn, a director of the organization.

Kate Martin, another Parents for Skateparks director, also sounded enthusiastic about the idea. "I can't wait to get down and figure out the pluses and minuses," she said. "Obviously, we're needy, needy, needy."

Martin and Shinn were both involved in planning for the new, 3,000-square-foot skateboard park in Ballard, and Martin said she thinks one at the CSO location could end up being the same size.

One advantage of the site is easy access, Phillips said of bus service and a future monorail station across the street. But he cautioned that the county agency, by law, has to receive fair-market value for the land - whether it is purchased or leased.

"It may not work financially," conceded Phillips, who added that there is also the possibility nearby residents might object to the plan because of the noise.

The plan for a skateboard park at the location is still conjecture at this point, noted Gary Larson, a spokesman for Metro's wastewater division. So is the proposal to relocate a Seattle Center basketball court next to the CSO project. "We're still negotiating with the city about what to do with the property," he said.

"What we're hoping is we'll get a long-term lease," said Susan Golub, a Seattle Parks and Recreation advisor on the Skateboard Park Advisory Committee. The committee was formed in the aftermath of planning for the sometimes-controversial Ballard skateboard park, she said. "They will be involved with this (the CSO park) if it comes to pass."

The current skateboard park at the Seattle Center is operated exclusively by the Seattle Center, but that will change when it is relocated somewhere off Center grounds, Golub explained. "Since it will be off-campus, they've asked Parks to build and manage the facility."

The Gates Foundation and the Seattle Center will share in the costs to relocate the skateboard park at the Center, but Phillips said it is possible the county might be able to kick in some of the construction costs if the skateboard park is located next to the CSO project. The money would come from a mitigation fund, he explained.

The CSO project is due for completion in late spring. However, the Gates Foundation doesn't plan to break ground for its headquarters at the Seattle Center until 2007, and Golub said Parks is hoping a new skateboard park next to the CSO project could be up and running before the old one is demolished.[[In-content Ad]]