The first public skateboard feature of its kind in a Seattle park, the slab of smooth concrete that is the Summit Slope skatedot Thursday night was celebrated as an innovative win for skateboard culture in the city — and criticized as a loud, unwanted addition to the neighborhood just off E Olive Way. As preface to the session of public comment in front of the Seattle Parks Board, officials said they are trying to figure out what to do about the feature that some neighbors say is too noisy and attracts unwanted activities to the area where Summit meets John.
“It’s ‘shhh-tunk’ all night long,” one neighbor who spoke out against the skatedot said at Thursday night’s meeting.
For background on the issues around the skatedot, check out this recent CHS report.
No decisions will be made until the public comment deadline arrives on May 20th. In the meantime, you can add your thoughts to the debate by e-mailing Parks with your ideas on what should happen to the feature — including keeping it just the way it is. The Board reps, by the way, say they prefer a short note with original information vs. cut-and-paste form letter campaigns.
Options appear to be few — it’s basically remove the feature or live with it, one Parks representative told CHS off the record.
Here are some of the other things we saw and heard Thursday night:
- “A nice idea in theory but awful in practice” — another neighbor who also works as a building manager. He also complained that the safety fence installed by Parks due to safety worries related to runaway skateboards is an “eyesore.”
- A dot supporter said he believed this is really a debate over wider concerns about skateboarding. “The issue is that we are finally starting to make public spaces for skateboarding,” he said.
- The youngest speaker was 14. Nice work Jasper. He was for the dot, by the way.
- Jasper’s dad didn’t win many friends amongst the group of neighbors who oppose the dot when he suggested that maybe people who don’t like the park shouldn’t live in a noisy city. Jasper’s dad didn’t offer up whether he lives across the street from a skateboard feature.
- One resident expressed her regret that better materials hadn’t been used that would have made for a quieter feature.
- “Had I known it would be there, I wouldn’t have purchased,” said another.
- Matthew Lee Johnston, who we spoke to about the problems at the park last fall, called himself the “father of the skatedot” and said that people who singled out the noise from the park were committing “discrimination” against skaters.
- It was also particularly interesting to hear Ryan Barth, chairperson of the Seattle Skate Park Advisory Committee, who was instrumental in helping to drive the addition of the skatedot feature to the Summit Slope plans. His two-minute testimony slot refuted some statements from Parks reps earlier in the meeting about how early in the planning the skatedot was discussed. Barth testified that the skatedot was part of the plans — and the public conversation — from nearly the beginning.
- “We all live in this noisy place that’s a big city. I think the skatedot should stay.”
- “Those are the sounds of life.”
- Real estate value came up a few times from the speakers against the skatedot. One woman said she is losing tenants. Another said she was worried she won’t be able to sell her property.
- Not all neighbors who spoke opposed the dot. One said he was a p-patcher, never skated but like to watch people using the park.
- Another skater said the skatedot was important to him because it was a new type of place in the city where he can do his thing without and having to worry about getting hassled by police or getting a ticket.
- More support: A woman that said she recently moved nearby the park from New York said she thought features like the skatedot could actually boost the appeal of the neighborhood over time.
- Another resident against the skatedot acknowledged the conflict he felt. “I never thought I’d be this guy,” he said. He said it was cool seeing kids having a good time. He said it would also be cool to have some peace and quiet.