City Council chooses site for new skate park
May 27, 2014
By Peter Clark
Issaquah’s new skate park will land in Tibbetts Valley Park.
After months of public meetings where the Parks Board and a citizens advisory group looked at eight possible locations for the future site, the City Council unanimously approved a triangular spot in Tibbetts Valley Park, adjacent to the west parking lot, during the May 19 regular meeting.
“The skate park started out as a real grassroots effort in 1995 and 1996,” Councilwoman Eileen Barber said. “They really petitioned the council and came to meeting after meeting, saying how important that a skateboard park would be to them. Unfortunately, over the years, even with increased police efforts, the secluded location of the park presented safety challenges and so the community desired a new skateboard park.”
After increased problems with drugs and fighting involving nearby schools, residents began asking the city to relocate the skate park from where it is tucked away behind the Issaquah Community Center.
“Realizing the skate park was not included in the 2013 park bond, a group of citizens came before the council and shared their desire for a new skate park in Issaquah,” Parks & Recreation Manager Brian Berntsen said at the meeting. “Council directed the staff to include $350,000 in the 2014 preliminary budget.”
That was how the city received the money, diverting $200,000 from park mitigation funds and $150,000 from real estate excise tax dollars, but choosing a location involved the help of many residents.
The Parks & Recreation Department held two public meetings to narrow the list of proposed sites, which included a few in the highlands as well as an early favorite in Veterans’ Memorial Field.
With resident comments, the citizens advisory group brought the recommendation of Tibbetts Valley Park site to the Park Board’s March 24 meeting. The board approved the recommendation to the City Council unanimously.
“The people in the community really gave a lot of great input in our discussion,” Berntsen said in a phone interview. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
In a presentation to the council, he said the existing skate park is 5,600 square feet and the approved site will allow anywhere between a 6,000- and 9,000-square-foot park.
The city will also use the $350,000 to demolish the existing park and repurpose it to fit in with its surroundings.
“We will bring it back to its natural state, with low-lying bushes and native plantings while maintaining the visibility,” Berntsen said.
The City Council gave nothing but glowing words to the recommendation and the process taken to achieve it.
“I want to thank everyone who participated in the citizen advisory committee,” Council President Paul Winterstein said. “I spent some time at Veterans’ Memorial Field and the Tibbetts location, and thought about comments both for and against and I’ve talked to citizens. And, in the end, it’s absolutely impossible to have anything against their recommendation. I’m completely on board with this location.”
Berntsen said the Parks & Recreation Department will next hire a consultant, pick a design and build a new park.
“We’re reviewing different consultants and that person will help us design the new skate park,” he said over the phone, reiterating the city’s commitment to public outreach. “Now, we can get creative with the design. We’re going to involve everybody. It’ll be everywhere.”
Berntsen said the process needed a bit more time before the city had a concrete timeline for the project.
In the meantime, the council thanked the residents who helped make the recommendation.
“This is really a joyous day for me to be able to support this bill,” Councilman Tola Marts said. “This has been coming for quite a long time.”