Skating toward a park plan: Second design meeting focuses on physical features, safety

Despite being far from full, the lower meeting room of the Green Lake Library was not empty of critical comment, ambition or hope for dozens of local Seattle skateboarders.

Spanning generations, those in attendance at the Dec. 13 Seattle Parks and Recreation meeting got a glimpse of the city's second skate park for its growing skating community. They had input on desired terrain and features for the nearly19,000-square-foot park at Lower Woodland Park, 5201 Green Lake Way N., which will cost nearly $850,000.

"We are trying to build a park that is worthy of people traveling to [it] and getting used," said designer Wally Hollyday, who owns a skate-park design and construction company out of Aliso Viejo, Calif. The city selected him for his 30 years' experience; he is "renowned among skateboarders for the fact that they love to skate his parks," said Karen Lynch, the park's department's senior public-relations specialist.

With 80 skate parks attributed to his Hollyday's name by either design or construction, Hollyday's company has become a household skateboarding name in Atlanta; Santa Monica, Calif.; Nashville; Wichita, Kan.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; and now Seattle.

Desired design features

Local skaters had much to say about what they wanted in their skate park. Some of the most desired features included:

* Beginning and advanced in-ground bowls, which allow skaters to maintain continuous movement and demonstrate a variety of skills;

* Transfer areas between obstacles, to change between skill focuses like flat, ramped, or curved surfaces; and

* Challenging stationary obstacles of all material types, shapes and sizes (i.e. hand rails, concrete wedges/blocks, spines and ramps).

Additionally, the designer and skate community agreed to bring a more urban street environment to the park to draw skaters who typically use city streets as their training ground, with a "street plaza" that will have such city features as curbs, rails and posts to imitate a pedestrian walkway. The hope is to provide an area where "street riders" can skate without running into police, pedestrians or cars, they said.

"It's going to take years to learn how to ride all the stuff I've put into this park," Hollyday continued. I want "to provide a really good example of a well-balanced skate park that addresses the needs of all of styles of skating, abilities and age groups," Hollyday said.

Initial concerns

However, the group did express some concerns, such as the amount of grass turf included in the first design drafts; creating a progressive park that will evolve with the sport and its clientele; and ensuring that the park be designed for both beginning and advanced skaters so that they have the chance to learn from one another.

Tim Bennett and his son, Ezra Weill, 12, attended the meeting to stress the importance of being able to watch as beginners and advanced skateboarders took turns riding or "sessioning."

"For our family, [skateboarding] has been fun," Bennett said. "The competition is to improve yourself, but everybody is trying to help you get better."

Other concerns included park aesthetics and safety features, including parent pickup/drop-off zones, storage areas for personal belongings, emergency phones and the park's borders, which will be constructed between the soccer and baseball/softball fields at Lower Woodland Park.

Lynch addressed one safety issue himself, saying "the field lights provide only ambient light, but they are only on during games. Skateboarding won't really be practical [after dark, unless there is a game]."

The skate park, like the rest of Lower Woodland Park, however, will open from 4 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

The 'test case'

Phase I of the skate park will begin construction next summer and will be finished for use the following fall. It will boast 19,000 square feet of riding terrain for area skaters and will cost the city $600,000. The remaining $250,000 was raised through community donations.

The skateboarding community is also hard at work attempting to raise $150,000 to $200,000 in funding for the second phase of the Lower Woodland Skate Park.

They hope this second phase will increase the park's terrain to 20,000 to 25,000 square feet and address some of the lighting and seating issues.

"It will be a nice change to not have to drive up to Mukilteo, Arlington or Carnation to ride at a world-class facility after work," Dan Barnett, 32, said. "It is also the test case for what skate parks are going to be in Seattle in the future."


* For additional information on this poject, go to the city's website at

* To get involved with fund-raising for Phase II of Lower Woodland Skate Park, contact Scott Shinn at

* To view other skate parks designed or built by Wally Hollyday, visit the website at[[In-content Ad]]