Westside Story – Kiwanis – Lakewood First Lions Skate Park
I remember back in the late 90s when I was with the Lakewood Police Department, a proposal surfaced to build a skate park. It was thought a skate park would provide our youth with healthy, safe and legal activity where they could hang out with friends and expend some of the teenage energy that we all wish we still had. Some of our local youth made an organized effort to communicate to our Lakewood City Council their support for building a skate park. Our city council listened and then took action. Isn’t that great? Kids talk and adults listen. Kids and adults working together to make our city a better place to live, work and play. Lakewood is a kid friendly city.
I remember there were citizens FOR and citizens AGAINST the idea. Ultimately the idea got wheels; pun intended, and the state-of-art in-ground skate park was built with 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of concrete.
It did not take long before graffiti marred the new park, but that was quickly covered up. Our City Parks Department does a good job of discouraging the criminal act of vandalism.
Now many years have passed and looking back it is my observation that while there may have been a few problems, everything has settled down to a pleasant and constructive rhythm of young people having good fun. Long after having spent the money, this city asset continues to serve our community and new generations of youth.
I remember being a part of the inventive youth of the late 1940s. Skateboards in today’s current form had not yet been developed. We had invented prototypes for skateboards though. I am talking about roller skate parts nailed to lumber and produce crates.
While at Mt. Baker, I jumped on an abandoned derelict snow ski like it was a skateboard. I went flying down the slope and over the cliff dropping directly into the parking lot. I ended up punching the snow ski through the back window of a 1954 Ford 9 passenger station wagon. (Note: While my above snow ski description is built on a foundation of rock solid truth, I hasten to admit to being guilty of having of embellished my tale. The intent of my embellishment is directed towards increasing the entertainment value for you, my readers. Besides, I am Irish, so I can’t help it.)
The skate park located on Bridgeport Way SW just south of Steilacoom Boulevard SW, is depicted in my attached photos.
As much as I like having the park in our city, it is unlikely I will ever use the facility. Should I climb onto a skateboard at my age, it might be likened to a suicide mission similar to when I stuck that abandoned ski through the back window of that Ford. For those of you who are still young and invincible, grab a skateboard and make a run for it.
The City of Lakewood started their effort to build the skate park with a $110,196 Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program grant. The City of Lakewood, private citizens and local businesses raised additional funds to match the grant amount. Thanks to all of you generous contributors for your donations of money, time and effort. There is a tile matrix at the park erected as contributors display. My photo slide show depicts a few of the generous supporters.
And finally, I thought it would be fun if I included some action skateboard video. I met Bryce Elliott, who is an 18 year old Yelm High School Senior participating in the pre-college Running Start Program at Pierce College. Bryce is studying Criminal Justice. Check out Bryce’s skateboard action as he works with and then again defies the laws of physics.
While naysayers like to go thumbs down on spending money for projects like the skate park, I think the city’s decision to move forward has proven to be an excellent investment in our youth.
This year we are having a similar conversation regarding a walking path around Gravelly Lake.The Voice of Tillicum, almost always negative, never wants to spend money to make our city more desirable or safer. I clearly remember the loud complaints radiating out of Tillicum when our city graciously installed custom designed concrete sidewalks throughout the Tillicum neighborhood. I can only hope our city visionaries, who are able to see the big picture, will win out. If we end up with a pathway around Gravelly Lake, we will have yet another city asset, like the skate park, that will provide entertainment, exercise and safety for a multitude of residents and guests spending time in The City of Lakewood.