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Skate park gains new canvas

KINGSTON — For almost a month, electric yellow hibiscuses on a red background have decorated one of the ramps at the Kingston Skate Park, reflecting the lifestyle of many of the park users but irritating some of its neighbors. The argument as to whether or not graffiti is actually “art” will probably never end, but Kitsap County Facilities, Parks and Recreation is finally having a new canvas installed with the aim of deterring spray painting in the more visible areas of the park.

The 4-foot high by 20-foot long wooden wall is being installed by the Northwest Laborer-Employer Training Trust Fund, located on Ohio Avenue, as a practice project for the workers there, said Kitsap County senior maintenance supervisor Dori Leckner. The goal is to reduce graffiti in the concrete skating bowl and provide a creative outlet for children, teens and adults who frequent the park.

“Several years have gone into making this happen,” she said. “The last four years, I’ve been working with the labor camp to get this going.”

Wall construction was originally expected to begin June 19 and end June 26, providing practice for some of the laborers in the training program. Neighbors and community members have been pushing for such a project since the skate park opened in 2001. June 11, Kitsap County Facilities, Parks and Recreation director Chip Faver asked Leckner to make it happen, and she contacted the laborers the next day. The wall materials are being donated, and the work is being done on a volunteer basis as a part of the training program.

“I think, I know one graffiti artist, well I don’t know him, but I’ve seen him up there painting, and I know he’s making a whole scene on the skate park,” said park user Tim Dolen, 17. “When the graffiti wall goes up, it will be used, but it won’t take all the graffiti from the park.”

Graffiti art aside, the site still must clear an ever bigger hurdle — vandalism.

The park has come under fire since opening, and almost everything — save a single trash can — has been removed because of vandals. Leckner said she is hoping the graffiti wall will ease the neighborhood tension that has been apparent since the idea of the park originated. The wall should be completed by next week, and area graffiti artists are looking forward to it, Dolen said.

“We will paint over anything offensive, the area won’t be visible from the roadway,” Leckner said. “We will paint over offensive graffiti, and the community asked if we would paint over everything in the bowl, but we just don’t have time.”

“I think it will be cool,” Dolen said. “I think it will help a lot of other people who want to try it, and there are a lot of graffiti artists in the area that will use it.”

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