SK parent establishes nonprofit to build a skate park

If it’s not raining, Leslie Taylor’s 13-year-old son, Zack, is outside, whether its the summer or a cold January day.

Friday was cold, but the Marcus Whitman student and a dozen of his friends were hanging out behind the QFC on Mile Hill Drive, coasting back and forth over speed bumps and off of a concrete truck platform on their skateboards.

In the middle of the black-topped area used mostly be delivery trucks, three small crate-platforms are stacked on each other, which the teens use to jump on and off of, some landing gracefully with four wheels on the ground, others jumping off in one direction while their board coasts off in another.

Zack climbs up on to the 4- to 5-foot platform and does several jumps off of it. He’s skilled enough to perform the act several times over without falling.

“Kids are spending too much time at TV and video games,” Taylor said. “These kids don’t. If it’s not raining, they’re outside.”

But in South Kitsap, there aren’t many places for teens like Zack and his many friends from Marcus Whitman to skate. They move from parking lot to parking lot, only to be chased away by business owners or patrol officers.

“To skateboad from one illegal place to another illegal place is dangerous,” Taylor said. In all, she sees the group as good kids engaged in an athletic and healthy activity.

“There are some bad kids out there,” she said. “But in this particular group they’re all pretty good kids.”

That’s why Taylor started a nonprofit aimed at building a destination skate park at the South Kitsap Community Park. The group will hold another meeting tonight at LeGarmache in the Westbay Center on Bay Street.

While staying in the South Kitsap area, skaters like these teens have no place to go where they can legally hone their skill. The nearest parks are in Bremerton and Gig Harbor.

Taylor wants a place for her son to legally skate.

And the group doesn’t want to do anything else. On a Friday afternoon, they say they’d rather be skating in cold weather than playing video games or joining a school sports team.

In fact, skating is the only thing on that list of activities that’s “not lame.”

Fourteen-year-old Brent Miller explained he liked the freedom of skateboarding.

“You don’t have to go by a schedule,” he said.

With the South Kitsap Community Park now in the hands of the county, the time is ripe for someone like Taylor to affect its future, and park officials are more than happy to allow it.

Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Director Chip Faver wants to see the skate park installed, but said when specific user groups request government support for their activity, “the lord helps those who help themselves.”

Tax payers are often wary of supporting an activity to a specific group, so Faver hopes that Taylor’s nonprofit can approach the county with a plan and some funds raised ahead of time.

But he added that skateboarding has become one of the top participation sports in the country, calling it a “huge force to be reckoned with,” and is excited to support skating facilities in South Kitsap.

Taylor has begun collecting funds for a park, which she wants to be top-of-the-line, to draw in skaters from within the community and elsewhere.

The teens behind the QFC are hoping for a park that would mimic an urban-sidewalk, with stair-steps and rails, and a ramp with enough space to gain some speed.

This kind of park will cost money, $7,000 to $8,000 Taylor estimated, and she is anxious to start raising it now.

And the need for such a park is ever-apparant, as the teens behind the QFC ended their Friday outside being asked to leave the area by a patrol officer.

For more information on the proposed skate park, or to make a donation, contact Leslie Taylor at (360) 265-6691.

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