Petition leads to action on skate park relocation
July 9, 2013
By Peter Clark
A groundswell of support for relocating the skate park moved the City Council to action July 1 after the issue was removed from the park bond discussion.
When the council met for its regular meeting, Mayor Ava Frisinger alerted the crowd of more than 50 people that there was a change to the official agenda. A bill was added and later approved that calls for the Services & Safety Committee to investigate possible action with regard to the skate park.
Long seen as a location for illegal activity, the skate park has come under increasing scrutiny by parents and community groups. The secluded placement of the park and its proximity to schools has made it somewhat of a haven for drug use and fights, according to many educators, parents and citizens who spoke during the meeting’s public comment. The city agreed that negative presence keeps families from using the skate park and turns pedestrians away from the adjacent Rainier Trail.
“We’ve been involved with that area for about a year,” Issaquah Community Network board of directors Chairwoman Dianne Bugge said, adding that the organization has held cleanup events in the area that found abundant litter and drug paraphernalia, including syringes. “But we’ve heard about it from our community for about two years.”
After learning that funding for a skate park relocation would not be included in the park bond, the Issaquah Community Network quickly launched an online petition the week of June 24. The petition, which called on the council to “close the current skate park, and to fund and construct a replacement skate park in a more visible, kid- and family-friendly location,” was able to get more than 200 signatures in just a few days.
“We had originally thought that there would be money put into it through the bond,” Bugge said. “When we learned there would not be, that’s when we started an online petition to get support for the community.”
Bugge said she saw the council’s response as a victory for the people of Issaquah, but recognized that it was only the beginning of a solution.
“This is just the first step in changing the area into a more conducive family area,” she said. “It’s just the perfect location for drug activity, but I think it could be the perfect location for something positive for the community.”
Frisinger agreed that the rallying voices in support of a skate park relocation are what spurred the city to move more discernibly in that direction.
“The council had it on an earlier version of the park bond,” she said. “Through the public input, there was less interest on the electronic survey and less reflected in the public statements.”
After an article in The Issaquah Press discussed the park board’s decision to leave out the skate park relocation from the park bond recommendation to the City Council, Frisinger said public support became far more vocal.
“The people became very concerned with the current skate park because it is out-moded and the illegal behavior,” she said. “The agenda bill was an effort to address the concerns of people who want a skate park relocation and not have to reprioritize the funding efforts of the bond.”
The city has said that the relatively recent issue has not left any time to begin scouting for possible locations to move the skate park. City Communications Manager Autumn Monahan did say that specific site attributes have been identified.
“Prospective sites haven’t been narrowed down yet,” Monahan said in an email. “If this project proceeds, the public input process would include conducting a site study.
“The city would examine sites with the following features: high visibility for safety; accessibility for teens and pre-teens; proximity to others who are walking or driving by so that there are other eyes and ears on the park; enough space to accommodate beginners, intermediate and advanced skaters; and minimal impact to other neighbors or citizens with regard to noise.”