The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners voted August 25th to approve Dahl Playfield as a site for a skatespot. In local terminology, a “skatespot” means a facility geared toward younger, beginner and intermediate skateboarders as opposed to a larger skateboard park featuring a bowl and other advanced features.
The commissioners’ approval was not unconditional: they explicitly ruled out one of the proposed sites at Dahl, known as the “south site,” where Friends of Dahl Playfield has planned a public art installation. Commissioner Amit Ranade suggested that selecting another proposed site, at the north end of the parking area, would address many of the concerns raised in public comments. Others agreed, but on the recommendation of Parks Superintendent Ken Bounds, the commissioners decided not to limit consideration to that site alone. Bounds noted that his department would be looking more closely at the implications of selecting the north site (for example, on parking). The vote was unanimous, with the chair abstaining as usual.
The commissioners were impressed with the volume and quality of the feedback they received. Commissioner Terry Holme noted how few of the emails were of the “me too” variety, concluding, “this is a wordy neighborhood.” And passionate, added another commissioner.
The Wedgwood Community Council (WCC) helped solicit feedback via the Wedgwood Echo newsletter and an August 16 forum at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church. Over 60 people attended the forum, which began with brief remarks by WCC President Brian Swanson, Christine Larsen of Friends of Dahl Playfield, Teresa Sumearll of Boarders 4 Parks, and Pam Kliment of Seattle Parks and Recreation. Following a question-and-answer session, 28 individuals-including several young skateboarders-offered verbal testimony, and several more provided written comments.
“Comments were thoughtful and passionate,” said Swanson. “I think most people came away with a better appreciation for other points of view on this issue.”
The day after the forum, the WCC forwarded the full text of the written comments to the Parks Board, plus summaries of verbal comments. The council has received over 100 comments in total. Through the August 16 meeting, the WCC had received comments from 51 people in favor of the skatespot at Dahl, 21 against, and 1 somewhere in between. (The total comment tally is higher in part because several people commented more than once.) Most commenters live in Wedgwood or close by, for example, in Bryant. The WCC did not take a pro or con position, but instead summarized trustees’ thoughts and observations for the Parks Board and let the individual comments speak for themselves.
The Wedgwood Community Council thanks all those who participated in the public process and provided feedback to the council and the Parks Board. We look forward to supporting both Friends of Dahl Playfield and Boarders 4 Parks in realizing successful projects at Dahl Playfield.
– David Atcheson, WCC trustee