By MICHELLE BEAHM
Leslie Reynolds-Taylor can remember a time when the only places skaters like her son could do what they love in town was in parking lots and on streets. From that reality, an idea was born.
More than seven years and $100,000 in fundraising later, the South Kitsap Skate Park will be opened to the public June 22.
The skate park, designed by New Line Skateparks, includes a 7,000-square-foot bowl, a 7,700-square-foot plaza and a 16-foot full pipe. It’s one of only a few skateparks in Kitsap County, and it’s the only skatepark in South Kitsap.
The park is located at at South Kitsap Regional Park at Lund and Jackson avenues in Port Orchard.
Other skateparks in Kitsap: Billy Johnson Skate Park in Kingston, the Raab Park Skate Park in Poulsbo, and the Silverdale Skate Park at Silverdale Rotary Gateway Park. Another skate park is being built in Little Boston, on the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation.
South Kitsap Skate Park will open with a celebration from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The celebration will include events such as demonstrations by visiting professional skaters, a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m., a raffle and a best trick contest.
“It’s a pretty full day of music and activities and celebration,” said Leslie Reynolds-Taylor, who proposed the skate park and is president of the South Kitsap Skate Park Association.
More than 18 vendors representing a variety of restaurants — including MoonDogs Too and Amy's on the Bay — will be at the opening. The raffle will include prizes donated by DiamondBack in Seattle and Extreme Sports in Port Orchard.
Staff members of Thrasher, a skateboarding magazine, were in South Kitsap this week. The magazine is planning a story on the skate park and will bring as many as a dozen professional skateboarders to test the facility.
Pro skateboarder Amy Caron, who has competed in the X Games since 2003, is scheduled to appear, along with roller-derby skater Michelle Estrogen. Caron finished third at the X Games in 2003, 2007 and 2008 and won the women’s World Cup Skateboarding Championship in 2002.
The grand opening is the first in many events that will probably be held at the park, according to Reynolds-Taylor. She said DiamondBack wants to hold a West Coast bike tournament for Oregon and Washington bikers in August.
“I’m sure there’ll be one event every month or so,” she said.
Association board member Randall Fisher will provide lessons in skating and skateboard safety as well.
According to Reynolds-Taylor, the best part about the South Kitsap Skate Park is skaters now have a safe alternative to streets and parking lots.
“I’m just excited to see the kids’ faces,” Reynolds-Taylor said. “The landscaping is beautiful. The designers and the builders did an awesome job designing [a park] that is safe for the community and safe for the kids as well.”
Patricia Graf-Hoke, executive director of Visit Kitsap Peninsula, toured the skate park with Reynolds-Taylor on June 17.
“It appeals to a lot of different age groups and there’s nothing else like it in the West Sound or Tacoma area,” Graf-Hoke said.
“We expect this new multi-sport venue to attract visitors and families from around the region and the county who will also have the opportunity to experience South Kitsap and the Kitsap Peninsula region.”
One concern, though, is vandalism. The association doesn’t want graffiti “that will damage the skatepark," and asks people to stop or report vandalism they see happening at the park.
Ric Catron, parks project manager of the Kitsap County Department of Parks and Recreation, said the skate park was placed near the road as a deterrent to vandals and others who might want to sneak in after it’s closed. All county parks close at dusk.
Reynolds-Taylor raised the idea of a skate park because she felt there were no safe places locally to skateboard. The skate park association formed and raised $100,000 for park construction.
The association received donations and grants from several organizations, including Fred Meyer, Bank of America and the Tony Hawk Foundation.
The park was designed by New Line Skateparks of Canada; Grindline Skate Parks of Seattle did the construction. BCRA of Seattle designed the landscaping.
“It’s everybody’s park,” Reynolds-Taylor said. “Not just one person’s or one group’s park.”