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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Skatepark Wars

posted by on July 26 at 18:08 PM

In this week’s paper, I had a small piece about the most recent delay in the relocation of the SeaSk8 skatepark, which was formerly located just east of Seattle Center.

On Monday, City Council was supposed to vote on a plan — previously approved by the council’s parks committee — to relocate SeaSk8 next to the Vera Project, on the north side of Key Arena. The vote was postponed until August 6th, due to some indecision about whether the fugly Du Pen fountain, which currently occupies the site, should be ripped out in favor of a skatepark.

The Du Pen family wasn’t happy about the fountain’s removal and several Council members received emails citing Du Pen as one of the few spots in the Center where families can hang out.


It’s also worth noting that Du Pen gets used as a skate spot anyway, when it’s not full of water.

City Council rep Tom Rasmussen says he hadn’t heard about the controversial plan for Du Pen’s removal until the weekend before the vote. “I open the paper this weekend and see it’s going to go smack in the middle of this sculpture in Seattle Center. That’s when I expressed concern about this site. The council’s gotten really frustrated because we haven’t gotten a lot of good [skatepark relocation] choices presented to us.” Rasmussen has been a big supporter of skateparks in the past, and is all for a Seask8 rebuild, but he says he doesn’t want to see the Du Pen fountain ripped up

Council member Richard Conlin agrees that the Du Pen site isn’t optimal. He points to a scrapped plan for a site on Broad Street— which fell apart due to pressure from the Center’s Century 21 committee— as his first choice. “I supported the Broad Street location,” Conlin says. “I thought that was the ideal situation.” Although the Broad Street site isn’t happening, and the Du Pen site is less than optimal, Conlin says he’ll push for a resolution during the August 6th Council vote. “We’ve got to do this [and] I believe we have the votes at this point.”

SeaSk8’s latest delay has drawn a fiery response from Seattle’s skate community. The folks at the Skate Park Advisory Committee have done an admirable job of lobbying the city and have worked too hard for SeaSk8 to die again. Hopefully, the city can get it together and finally rebuild the long-promised and too-long delayed skatepark.

On Sleestak, a local skateboard website, blogger “Bobcat” offers up a unique way to solve the SeaSk8 problem:

Here’s my solution fuckwads: Give us a 1/4 of that barely used parking lot north of the opera house. Since it seems to rain in Seattle (oh the horror!), that would be an excellent place to put skaters and keep us out of the main Seattle Center rotting core.

RSS icon Comments


How much space does a good skate park need?

It would fit in that Digi-Pen (whatever the fuck it's called) fountain space? It just seems... not big enough (when you consider buffer area too). Why do it half-assed if it's going to be a squeeze?

Posted by RAF | July 26, 2007 7:38 PM

I am all for a skate park, and I know the city jerks skaters around, but why plan a location at Seattle Center when it could all change with the redesign coming up soon? Or would the proposed location fit with any of the redesign plans and not be a problem?

Posted by don't understand | July 26, 2007 8:44 PM


That's like tearing down your favorite restaurant is okay because there's another restaurant like 50 feet away. Aren't all restaurants the same? The DuPen Fountain is completely different than the International Fountain.

That all-caps exclamation is so well, lame, that I surprised it didn't start with "DUDE!"

The skaters don't even like that site all that much, but thought that was their only choice. Now they've discovered their being pitted against the visual arts community, which I'm sure they don't want. Dude, it really sucks.

Posted by what? | July 26, 2007 9:02 PM


The Du Pen fountain is different from the International Fountain in that it's totally fucking ugly. It's underused and a waste of space. Get rid of it.

You're right. The skaters don't like that site. It's almost a 1/3rd smaller than the old SeaSk8 and it's in a wonky corner, but right now, they want to get a site without having to start from square. The likelihood of them getting a different site in any sort of timely manner is slim at best. I'd love to be wrong about that one, but I don't think I am.

The sad part of all of this, is that Seattle Center is a total wasteland. It's ugly, it's useless 10 months out of the year and it's totally ridiculous that the Center has made it so damn hard for these guys to get a decent park. This was nearly a sure thing last week, it's tragic that it's getting held up any longer. Dude.

Posted by Jonah S | July 26, 2007 9:11 PM

So, is the "Seattle Center is totally worthless" line the new thing for Slog, after that shoddy, simple-minded article last week?

I am pro skateboarder, but anti-fountain destruction. Personally, I like that area of the center. Surely there are other places on the Seattle Center Campus. How about that creepy and ugly surface parking lot for Memorial Stadium?

Posted by catalina vel-duray | July 26, 2007 10:58 PM

I believe Memorial Stadium is already being fought over by other entities.

I've lived here for a long, long time and the Center has been pretty useless for a long, long time.

Seriously, when were you there last? I'd love to hear what people do at the Center. I'm really not being snarky. The last time I was there was when I worked at a daycamp. There's nothing there. The Fun Forest is a death trap; Key Arena is, supposedly, falling apart; the Center House is a joke; need I go on?

This is finally an opportunity for the Center to get some use, and the city is totally blowing it.

Posted by Jonah S | July 26, 2007 11:40 PM

Here's a bunch of stuff we missed (or will probably miss) at Seattle Center this year:

Tết Festival: Celebrating Vietnamese Lunar New Year February 10-11, 2007

Festival Sundiata: African-American Celebration February 17-19, 2007

Irish Week Festival March 17-18, 2007

Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival April 20-22, 2007

Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration May 6, 2007

Northwest Folklife Festival May 25-28, 2007

China Festival June 2, 2007

Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival June 9-10, 2007

Naturalization Ceremony July 4, 2007

Bastille Day Celebration July 15, 2007

Arab Festival August 4-5, 2007

Cambodian Cultural Heritage Celebration August 11, 2007

BrasilFest August 19, 2007

Tibet Fest August 25-26, 2007

Korean Cultural Celebration September 8, 2007

Seattle Fiestas Patrias September 15-16, 2007

Italian Festival September 29-30, 2007

CroatiaFest October 7, 2007

Utsav * South Asian Performing Arts Festival * October 13-14, 2007

TurkFest October 20-21, 2007

Dia de Muertos October 27-28, 2007

Hmong New Year Celebration November 3, 2007

Posted by yup | July 27, 2007 12:09 AM

Two Councilmembers have raised concerns about the site. Don't the skaters have five votes? Has the vote been taken yet?

Posted by hey | July 27, 2007 12:13 AM

Jonah, you're getting your Stranger propaganda mixed up with your Sonics propaganda.

There's not enough of the Fun Forest left for it to be a "deathtrap"; The only people who think the Coliseum is "falling apart" are the Sonics - and they only say that to get yet another free renovation of it; The Center House is only a "Joke" to dubious writers from alternative weeklies who apparently think that the Center House needs only an "upscale" restaurant to make it non-Jokey.

In reality, the Seattle Center houses one of the nation's biggest tourist attractions, an NBA franchise, two theatre companies, the Children's theatre, The Children's Museum, a high school football stadium, and acres of park space and meeting space. Many cities would love to have that kind of attraction.

Just because hipsters don't have much cause to go there doesn't mean that other citizens don't use it.

The Stranger would do well to remember that one of the reasons The Seattle Weekly started to be regarded as dorky was their weird obsession with the Seattle Center back in the "imagineering" days.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | July 27, 2007 12:24 AM

I've been to Seattle Center about seven times this year. An awards show at the Space Needle, a Vera show, two fundraising dinners at Fisher Pavillion, a volunteer appreciation party at the Exhibition Hall, VegFest, a meeting, and something else I can't remember. Last year it was a wedding at the Needle, Gay Pride, and some other stuff.

Posted by Under 35 | July 27, 2007 1:44 AM

Center House would be cool again if they'd PUT THE FUCKING BUBBLEATOR BACK.

Posted by Fnarf | July 27, 2007 8:11 AM

if the park is not covered then it will be useless most of the year since it rains. Burnside in Portland and the park in Vancouver Canada are the best ideas for Seattle. Build under a bridge or "I 5" there are some really ugly spots under the highway that could use a sk8 park. The park does not "have" to go by Seattle center it can be anywhere. Sk8 parks are perfect for areas under overpasses.

Posted by -B- | July 27, 2007 8:19 AM

How about that AND seattle center? See, there are skate parks for different levels of skater and I doubt parents would want their six year olds under I-5.

Posted by yes | July 27, 2007 8:22 AM

I have been going to the Seattle Center since the 60's, and while its not "totally useless" it sure could use some improvement.

But ripping out a fountain to cram a skatepark in makes nobody happy except the bosses at the Center, who are trying to have the least possible skatepark they can get away with.

The DuPen fountain may be "fugly" to you, but thats just subjective personal opinion- it has its fans, and it gets used in an entirely different way than the turbo douche fountain over on the lawn. Little kids wade in it, parents sit on the edge, and it makes that concrete gulch where it sits livable and pleasant on hot, crowded days.

And its way too small for a decent skatepark anyway.

They just wanna stick it there because Vera is right there, and they figure to ghettoize all those pesky kids in one place will make em easier to police, literally.

The Center made a deal. Gates and his foundation made a deal- and the deal was, they would REPLACE the skate park. But neither of them will actually commit potentially profitable real estate to do it.

The Center location is needed because its, well, central. Portland has a bunch of skateparks, and Seatlle has virtually none.
And no political will to build anything for the public- instead, we ease zoning to build more condos and office towers- 50 odd construction projects downtown right now, another 150 in the permit process, 15,000 new, expensive condos under construction, but we "cant afford" one skatepark?

Posted by ries | July 27, 2007 9:39 AM

Since I work only a couple of blocks away, I eat my lunch at Seattle Center regularly. I started sitting at Du Pen is a great lunch spot. Less screaming children and it isn't closed off for half the summer for post-festival grass reseeding.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 27, 2007 10:09 AM

seattle is pretty good at taking good things and ruining them. an elderly gentlemen at one meeting told me that it is usually seattles' policy to "find something fun and tear it down"

as for 'fountains' and 50 feet away, they already did that to us with the ballard bowl and ruined a perfectly good scene and park in order to suck some yuppie developers off.

here's lookin at you Cathy Tuttle, you worthless piece of shit!

Posted by bobcat | July 27, 2007 11:01 AM

This all avoids the real reason the sk8r park got killed - the non-voter Gates Foundation got SCC to kill it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 27, 2007 1:51 PM

Yes, but the Gates Foundation saved the entire Seattle Center, which has been in the red so badly in the past ten years, the City probably would let Fox News take over and make it the Murdoch Center.

The Gates Foundation was a good move for the Center. Too bad they can't figure out this seemingly easy issue.

Posted by well | July 27, 2007 3:36 PM

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