I have been skateboarding for longer than Eudora has been alive. Yet when I asked this 12-year-old in a crowded City Hall on Wednesday why she liked skateboarding she was somehow able to explain the appeal better than I ever have.
“I feel like it’s another art form. It’s basically a way of expressing yourself that’s not painting, or writing, or storytelling. It’s a new way of doing what you want to do and breaking the rules and boundaries. I like that,” Eudora said.
Eudora’s eloquence might come from the fact that she gets to skateboard a lot, even while living in rainy Seattle. Her family manages to get her from her home in West Seattle to Fremont twice a week to skateboard at the private All Together Skatepark, one of the Seattle area’s few indoor skateparks. Most kids her age are stuck waiting out the rain before they can push a board around, which means they spend most of the year not skateboarding at all.
That could change if the City Council decides to pay for a roof over the city’s newest skatepark.
The Seattle Center plans to break ground on a new skatepark next year near Broad Street next to the Space Needle. This new park will replace the Seattle Center’s old skate park next to Key Arena, which a few weeks ago became the first victim of the arena’s $700-million redevelopment. A chainlink fence surrounds the expansive red-cemented skate park and a growing pile of yellow maple leaves has replaced any skateboarders.
This new $2.2 million park already has funding, thanks to $1.7 million from previously allocated tax revenue and another $500,000 from Oak View Group, the private company redeveloping the Key Arena. But the city hasn’t paid for putting pedestrian improvements around the park and a roof over the top to keep the rain out. Skate Like a Girl, a nonprofit that is partnering with Seattle Center to develop the new park, said those improvements would cost another $2.5 million.
That is what brought Eudora to City Hall on Wednesday night, along with Kristen Ebeling, the executive director of Skate Like a Girl. Ebeling said the city needs a public skatepark so everyone can have access to skateboarding, regardless of our extended rainy season.
“Not having a free space where everyone can skate all year is an equity issue,” Ebeling said. “We feel like since it’s centrally located and if it’s covered all kids regardless of income… can come skate.”
Seattle Center’s skatepark has also moved around a lot over the years–Ebeling said this would be the fifth version of Seattle Center’s skatepark–so investing more in this iteration of the park might stop the city from demolishing it in the future.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of wasted resources on rebuilding this skatepark so we want one that is world class and that they can’t take away,” Ebeling said.
In a statement shared by Deborah Daoust, a spokesperson for Seattle Center which is a department within the city government, the center declined to directly support the request for additional funding from the city's budget.
"Seattle Center supports the proposed City budget, and will work with the skate community to pursue outside funding to incorporate additional enhancements into the project," the statement said.
Some commentators have pointed to the skatepark underneath South Seattle’s Marginal Way as a covered skatepark. But while that skatepark is free and covered by a raised street, it wasn’t built with public funds or in a way that actually keeps the skatepark dry when it rains. Ebeling said that park doesn’t fit the needs of the greater skateboarding community.
“For a beginner skater it’s not that accessible and it’s also a DIY skatepark that the city did nothing to fund so when it comes to civics and tax dollars, Marginal Way was built from donations and skaters busting their butt to build something when we had no skateparks,” Ebeling said.
The part will still be built if the City Council declines to provide funding for the roof. But Matthew Lee Johnston, a longtime skateboarding advocate in Seattle that is helping organize the new project, said delaying the roof would make it less likely to ever be built.
“That’s [delaying] problematic though, because historically if you have that gap sometimes momentum dies down, enthusiasm dies down and you just never get your second phase. So we’re not super psyched on that idea.”
Johnston, Ebeling, and Eudora were joined by hundreds of people that filled City Hall on Wednesday night to ask for additional funding for various projects and causes. The council is expected to pass a budget within the next two months, we’ll see how psyched they are on giving Seattle it’s first covered public skatepark.