$75,000 grant puts skateparks back on city’s front burner

South Kitsap skateboarders will soon have two new places to hang out thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Birkenfeld Trust. - File photo
South Kitsap skateboarders will soon have two new places to hang out thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Birkenfeld Trust.
— image credit: File photo

Leslie Reynolds-Taylor, president of the South Kitsap Skatepark Association says it was “extremely exciting — overwhelmingly exciting,” to hear that the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust Fund had awarded a $75,000 grant to her fundraising group.

“I was in the middle of a business parking lot, and I’m an older lady,” she said. “But I was jumping up and down, I was so excited.”

The group has now reached, and surpassed, its original goal to raise $100,000 to build local skateparks.

At the beginning of June, this year, the group had $30,000 in its coffers, and was marching through its fourth year as an official nonprofit organization.

But it came out of June with $105,000, thanks to the grant.

Since the group has raised more than its original $100,000 goal, it has plans to divide the money between skateboarding facilities at the South Kitsap Regional Park and the Van Zee Park.

Organizers will combine $100,000 with Kitsap County funds, to build a skateboarding “bowl” at the South Kitsap Regional Park, and the county plans to expand the skateboard park, over time, into a $1 million facility covering 25,000 square feet.

The bowl will be the first step in the multi-phase project.

“With what the county is looking to spend, we’ll get close to a third of the total buildout all at one time,” said James Dunwiddie, director of the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department.

The county plans to seek grants as a major source for the rest of the funding, he said.

“I always kid around that we’re going to be having some bake sales,” Dunwiddie said.

The rest of the money the South Kitsap Skatepark Association has raised will go toward a “skatespot” within the city limits, Reynolds-Taylor hopes.

She presented her plans to the city council at a work-study session on Feb. 15, but was told to come back with more solid information.

The city council didn’t want to commit to anything until the members knew more about the project, said Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola.

“We’d like to see this happen,” he said, “but we want to know what we’re getting into and we don’t want any grey areas or any fuzziness about it.”

Coppola suggested the city give the skatepark group a checklist of all the information its organizers would need to go forward with the project.

“That could expedite the process,” he said. “That could let you know what you’re up against.”

So far, the city hasn’t taken any official action to approve the skatespot for any particular location.

“Most people” involved with the skatepark association would like to see it installed in the Van Zee Park, said Reynolds-Taylor.

But they’re not too picky, she added.

“We would go for any park that all of you agreed on,” she said. “As long as we can have the skatepark.”

The South Kitsap Skatepark Association has another fundraiser planned for Sept. 3 at Moondogs, Too on Bay Street, from 3 p.m. until closing.

The event will feature several bands, speakers and art.

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