Community

Spring should bring skatepark, at long last

Spring.

That’s when South Kitsap Skatepark Association vice-president Mike Vandenberg and Kitsap County Parks Director James Dunwiddie agree groundbreaking for the proposed Port Orchard skatepark will take place in South Kitsap Regional Park.

Currently, the parks department is preparing a bid package that will be sent to prominent skatepark builders, Dunwiddie said. The builders will have about a month to put in their bids. After a contract is signed, it’s up to the builder to gather equipment and decide on a starting date for construction.

“The equipment has to be mobilized and the company brings workers to the area,” Dunwiddie said. “But unless the company has a big backlog of projects they’re working on, it shouldn’t take long to get ready.”

And after years of funding problems and county commission meetings, the only thing that could now hold back the construction of the long-awaited park is the weather.

“With the amount of concrete work necessary for this project, we need a break in the rain,” Dunwiddie said. “I see sometime in the spring as a start date.”

A nearly set-in-stone date for construction is a welcome idea, Vandenberg said. Since the Skatepark Association teamed up with the county four years ago, he and other association members have seen their share of holdups and false starts.

Designing the park and educating the community took longer than expected. So did raising funds.

But after the association received a $75,000 grant from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust Fund this summer, Vandenberg said things have moved forward at a much quicker rate.

“This has been a long, and at times difficult, process,” Vandenberg said. “But after we received the $75,000, it spurred the county a bit. It’s now a priority.”

The Skate Park Association has raised about $110,000 to be combined with the $200,000 the county has committed, Dunwiddie said. A large chunk of the money will go to complete the large bowl centerpiece of the park. The remainder of the money will help build a “China banks” section of the skatepark, meant to appeal to a street-style of skateboarding.

With these two parts of the park complete, skateboarders of Port Orchard will finally have a free place to push outdoors.

“This is going to be a great place for young people to gather,” Vandenberg said.

An indoor skating area that charges admission has been available since Impact Skate Shop opened in September at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Mile Hill Drive.

Over time, the county plans to expand the skateboard park into a $1 million facility covering 25,000 square feet. But for now, Vandenberg likes knowing phase 1 of the construction will soon be under way.

“We have clear indications that Port Orchard will have a skatepark soon,” Vandenberg said. “If it’s done right, it will arguably be the best park on the peninsula.”

 

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