“Skateable art” inspires questions, concerns

Jefferson Park neighbors and local skaters had plenty of questions and concerns at a meeting Monday night sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation regarding the proposed “skateable art” installation at the Park. Discussion, after the presentation of the project, became intense and occasionally heated. The seats at the Jefferson Community Center were not packed, but most attendees to the meeting had something to say.

Pam Kliment, a planner from Parks and Recreation, opened the meeting by stating that three sites for the skate sculpture had been tentatively chosen in Jefferson Park. Red Bull energy drinks, the sponsor of the project, hope to “have the project in the ground” no
later than August. Kliment added, “Red Bull has dealt honorably with the Parks Department.”

Ryan Barth, identifying himself as a “cheerperson” for local skateboarding activities and by the Parks Department as a representative of the Seattle Sports Advisory Council, praised the city’s “great skateboarding culture.” He mentioned that Red Bull had decided on Jefferson Park after an inquiry into putting the sculpture at Myrtle Edwards Park “didn’t work out,” in large part because of the park’s neighbors.

Bob Snyder, Marketing Manager for Red Bull in Seattle, took the floor. He gave his word that Red Bull was “not here just to advertise our brand,” and the purpose of his company is “to give people and ideas wings.” He said Seattle has been chosen for the skate sculpture out of seven cities originally considered.

Metal artist C.J. Rench showed a short presentation of his previous projects, giving an idea of what the completed sculpture will look like. He mentioned that he’s working in collaboration with Torey Pudwill, a prominent professional street skater, to work on the artistic and skateable aspects of the sculpture at once.

After a short announcement from a man who entered the meeting to say a Pontiac in the parking lot had had its window smashed, Kliment opened the floor to questions and comments.

Frederica Merrell of the Jefferson Park Alliance spoke out against the three proposed sites, saying all three are in heavily-trafficked areas and might also interfere with irrigation. She proposed placing the skate sculpture at Lafayette Avenue South or on the west side of the reservoir at 16th Avenue South. She encouraged Red Bull and the Parks Department to “go back to the site discussion.” She also mentioned that the existing art pieces in the park are attracting graffiti and tagging, so that would be a concern for any new art piece.

Mira Latoszek, also of the Jefferson Park Alliance, wanted to make sure that the skate sculpture would not interfere with the general layout and “flow” of the park: “We worked in the spirit of the Olmsteds [when designing the Park].”

Other discussions involved the level or levels of skating ability the sculpture would require, and whether the piece would attract crime or graffiti/tagging issues. Ryan Barth spoke in favor of installing a graffiti wall that would allow graffiti artists and taggers to express themselves within the limits of the wall, although Merrell seemed skeptical of this idea.

The parties present agreed to meet later in the week to review a map of the park and discuss alternate sites to the three proposed so far.

See the 24-page presentation for the project, including information on the artist and the planned schedule, here.

This map shows the possible locations selected by Red Bull and Seattle Parks for a skateable art piece in Jefferson Park.
This map shows the possible locations selected by Red Bull and Seattle Parks for a skateable art piece in Jefferson Park.

7 thoughts on ““Skateable art” inspires questions, concerns”

  1. Between the increased noise and inevitable graffiti, this project has “public nuisance” written all over it. It wouldn’t surprise me if the only reason the Parks Department chose Jefferson Park is because they know that with so many non-English speaking and ESL homeowners and residents near the park, they wouldn’t get very much pushback from those of us who have to live with it. They don’t want a repeat of what happened with the Myrtle Edwards Park proposal, so they chose the park located in the neighborhood with little community involvement. I doubt any neighborhood wants this thing, so it’s getting dumped here. If we must have this — and evidently the decision has already been made that we must — #3 is the only site that’s acceptable, as at least it keeps all the skateboarding confined to one area.

    Placing it at 16th or Lafayette is completely unacceptable. There is no noise dampening from the park for those of us who live within the two to three blocks to the north of the park. It’s bad enough that we have to listen to the recorded music and drumming for hours on end on Saturdays and on Monday nights due to park events; having to listen to people skateboard all day every day would be a nightmare.

  2. Site 3 looks ideal. Proud to have projects like this pop up in BeHi. It increases park traffic and enlarges our community. I wish we could increase use of Jefferson Park even more, especially at night, by adding path lights all around the park pavings and low impact sports lights for field use (soccer, ultimate frisbee, etc.) I hate that after the sun goes down, if I want to walk the perimeter, I must do so with a flashlight (and feel a bit unsafe at that traveling in darkness in the far corners of the paved path.)

  3. i agree that site #3 seems to be the logical and only option. Is there a vote on these sites or is it too late?

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