Too much noise: City looking for solutions for the Summit Slope skatedot

Buried at the end of the Seattle Parks Department’s announcement about May Day’s dedication ceremony for Summit Slope Park was a curious coda. Celebrate the new park, the announcement said. And, oh yeah, we’re still talking about the skatedot feature:

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners will hold a briefing and public hearing on the skatedot feature in the park on May 12, 2011. The meeting is at 100 Dexter Ave at 7 – 9:30 p.m. The Board will then discuss and provide a recommendation to Seattle Parks and Recreation Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams. The Park Board is made up of citizen volunteers whose role is to gather public input on issues like this and provide recommendations to the Superintendent. While the Park Board doesn’t make the final decision, they do provide a forum for unbiased discussion and input. They will also take written comments via email or regular mail through Friday, May 20. 


For those of you who want to get right to it — here’s the Seattle Parks e-mail form.

For those of you who might want to give it some thought first, here’s some background on that skatedot and what Parks has to say about the ongoing situation that has pitted some neighbors against the new park. The situation — the City of Seattle + neighbors + a popular attraction + community good + individual rights — might look familiar.

“We’re looking for ideas if there are any out there,” acting deputy superintendent Eric Friedeli tells CHS. “The issue really revolves around noise.”

Noise and concerns about tagging and dangers from runaway skateboards is what first brought the controversy with the skatedot to our attention last fall. Even before the park had opened as eager skaters squeezed through fencing to give the new space a try, neighbors in the area began to realize exactly what including a skateboarding feature in the park was going to mean. Ryan, the neighbor who posted videos to YouTube showing skateboarders abusing the park, said the public process to add the feature didn’t include him. “Capitol Hill is a transient population. If you had meetings on something years ago, there’s a good chance the people don’t live there any more,” Ryan told us last year.

In response to complaints from Ryan and others in the area near the new park, the city added an $8,000 fence and sign and a variety of anti-skate elements to things like railings to try to contain the skateboarding issues neighbors said the $13,000 skatedot was attracting.

The original typo-ridden skatedot sign (Image: CHS)

While things like skate stoppers and “turtles” have helped direct skateboard use to the skatedot and pushed some of the problem activities out of the park and p-patch areas, Friedeli says the elements can’t combat the ongoing issue of noise. Skateboarding, even when restricted to limited hours, is loud.

“We’re looking for trade-offs for the unanticipated, unintended impact on the neighbors,” Friedeli said. He said Parks doesn’t have a list of options they are considering for what to do about the park. Instead, he said the May 12th hearing and the public feedback process through May 20th is an attempt to get some answers from the community about how to proceed with a feature that has already been approved by his department, paid for and built.

Skateboard advocacy site Seattleskateparks.org has a slightly different take on the May 12th meeting:

Regardless of this massive and expensive effort to appease the neighbors, they still don’t seem to be happy.  In what appears to be official Seattle Parks policy, they have exceeded their NastyGram threshold and are now lending credence to these NIMBY arguments by bringing them in front of the Parks Board of Commissioners.  For those unaware, they are the group of citizens that Parks uses as a sounding board (and as in this case…flak shield) for issues like these. 

Regardless of where the solutions for Summit Slope go, Friedeli said that the ongoing issues won’t be the death knell for skatedots in Seattle.

“The idea of having small skate features spread around the city is still an idea that we’re wiling to abandon,” he said.

The deputy superintendent did admit, however, that Summit Slope has changed the way Parks thinks about the features.

“The lesson we learned is to think more strategically about where we have them located,” Friedeli said. “In a more open park in another area, they may make sense.”

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20 thoughts on “Too much noise: City looking for solutions for the Summit Slope skatedot

  1. Seattleskateparks.org,

    Are you intending to get community support by using the term “NIMBY neighbors?”

    Are you intending to get commmunity support by calling your neighbors “unreasonable?”

    Maybe you should consider changing your tone if you want to move forward…

  2. NIMBY simply means (not in my back yard).
    and UNREASONABLE…. also not so threatening.

    Your comment is irrational.

    and no. This is just a random observer, not the mentioned website.

  3. A post about poster and skate boarders on the same day! Snarky assholes who hate everything will be in heaven! Quick, write something about underground parking or people complaining about loud music so we can get it all over with in one clump.

  4. Golly gee, Molly. Perhaps people do have legitimate complaints. I have no dog in this park fight so-to-speak, so I don’t really care what happens. But calling all of those who have issues “snarky assholes” is immature and adds nothing to discourse.

  5. Oh, how could I be so stupid? I didn’t know what the definition of NIMBY was and now you have enlightened me. The whole article now makes so much more sense. I feel so stupid.

    Can you define sarcasm for me now?

  6. Yeah, probably not the best idea to put a skateboard park right in the middle of a residential area. It’s really loud and I can see how it might bug people living there. Also, a lot of dogs go nuts with the sound of skateboards and can see how having your dog off the hook all day long might be annoying. Perhaps they should move it down by the highway – how about down the by Paramount, it’s not like there are a bunch of people living down there. Or they should build a real, full-on skate park down under I-5 on Lakeview where there’s no-one around to be bothered by the noise.

  7. The excessive noise from the skate dot does not fit into this peaceful park where people go to relax and tend to their P-patches. A larger park that has recreational/sport and/or playground features would be a better fit. How about Cal Anderson Park?

  8. Peaceful? good one. 50 feet from a designated DOT Truck Route, directly on the route 14 bus line, next to the pseudo flagship store of Starbucks, and just off the OliveWay pub crawl, not to mention the fact of the noise that inspires the subneighborhood nickname of “I-5 shores”. And pretending as if Cal Anderson isn’t ALSO surrounded on 3 sides by residential homes (so long as it’s not YOUR residential zone) – hilarious!
    I like your sarcastic dig illustrating the definition of the NIMBY. Well done, and keep ’em coming!

  9. It’s a shame dogs can’t pay taxes or vote. They seem to have SUCH important issues.
    Parks & recreation near residential areas is bad? That’s brilliant! Let’s build cement factories and airports there instead! You’re a zoning genius!!

    Meanwhile, the area I-5 at Lakeside is ALREADY A PARK. Way to pay attention.

  10. Molly, you forgot dog parks, block parties, cop shootings, and babies in restaurants. Otherwise, you had my vote for city council.

    Max: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a snarky asshole is just a snarky asshole. It’s not necessarily immature; it can be observant and even helpful/educational to call people on their BS.

  11. Isn’t playing dumb about the ‘definition of sarcasm’ showing that you can’t even handle having THAT (knowledge) in your ‘backyard’…?

    But you already know all about that.

    /sarcasm. Or not.

    Nimby isn’t a derogatory term, it’s simply a label to accurately identify an ignorant/selfish political stance. Actually BEING a NIMBY *IS* unreasonable. (Worrying only about oneself, and neglecting to have retained the SesameStreet-level lesson of Sharing and Community isn’t just the definition of rightwing Ayn Rand Objectivism, it’s also the definition of ADOLESCENCE).
    The community I label myself as being a part of IS supporting people smart enough to call NIMBY’s out for their unreasonableness. Seattleskateparks has our support!

  12. I’m a gardener in the p-patch and a user of the space when not gardening. I’m in favor of the skate dot and I’ve written a letter to the Parks Dept. to let them know my position. I am hoping other supporters of this neighborhood amenity will do the same.

  13. “Nimby” is clearly a derogatory term…in usual useage, it is used to criticize a person as being selfish because they don’t want something near where they live.

    The skatedot is inappropriate for such a small park in a relatively confined space. It should go.

  14. Sorry to be blunt but its capital hill, not Wallingford. if your thing is quiet neighborhoods and peaceful pea patches you shouldn’t have chose to live on the hill. People skate everywhere on the hill. people get drunk at bars and yell walking home. did you really expect to live on the hill and have it be a quiet place?

  15. maybe you should walk over to the dog park. thats why they built for you next to the highway so i cant hear your dog.

  16. That’s not really blunt. It’s just short-sighted and ignorant.

    Nobody is suggesting Capitol Hill needs to be a quiet neighborhood. If you don’t want to address issues with noise maybe you should move near the airport.

  17. Actually, the neighborhood probably can handle the drunks whooping it up coming home…at least they do their damage and are through it in two minutes. A skater can come and play for up to an hour, followed by the next one, and another….can be a pretty steady source of frustration for neighbors.

  18. The Parks Department Should Lease The Covered Parking Garage Next to the Dog Park and Make a Dedicated Skatespot There.

    It Would be Awesome.

    It rains quite a bit in this town etc etc etc etc.

    Nobody would complain about noise as the freeway drowns it out and dogs are barking anyway.

    Skaters could have smooth ground and the city would save $ if they allowed us to leave/bring/make DIY objects to skate on there.