Skate park to gain fence; BMX track on deck

The skate park in Federal Way will soon have a new look.

And, if public interest is piqued, it could eventually have a new neighbor – a BMX track.

A chain link fence will encompass the skate facility at Steel Lake Park by the end of November, said Kurt Reuter, city parks superintendent. The fence will have black fabric to match black railing already along the west side of the skate park. Other improvements made simultaneously will include extending asphalt pathways around the east and north sides of the park and to putting in a drinking fountain.

There were several requests from skaters for a drinking fountain, Reuter said. He added beverage vending machines were not an option because they would likely be vandalized like those at other city parks.

Some of the project requirements are being finalized, but the cost will be about $10,000, Reuter said.

The skate park may also see less use in the future – the kind of use that is prohibited.

If interest and action come hand-in-hand from area BMX enthusiasts, a patch of thorny blackberry bushes and brush vegetation could be cleared and become a BMX track. The issue will be discussed Thursday by the city parks commission.

The brush and vegetation are being cleared out next month for safety reasons, Reuter said.

Local BMX riders have been known to invade the skate park for lack of other places conducive to jumps and stunts. A small track with a few banked turns and raised berms could change that, he said. Funding for the park could be obtained from state grants and other sources, depending on whether or not local interest is expressed, Reuter said. “It wouldn’t cost a great deal of money to put in, and we’re going to be doing some work in that area anyway,” he said.

In any case, Reuter added, the concrete-covered skate park, which opened Aug. 18, is not appropriate for BMX riders.

“It wasn’t designed for bikes. It’s generally not big enough for bikes,” Reuter said.

The skate park area also will see another capital improvement – but not until spring, at least.

Under the city’s “2-Percent For Art” program, art will be added to improve the appearance of the soon-to-be-fenced park. One idea under consideration is adding an arched entryway that will make the park look less like a prison facility, city recreation superintendent Mary Faber said at a recent city committee meeting.

Joann Piquette, chairwoman of the city’s volunteer Arts Commission, said four artists have shown interest in contributing art. Some have suggested murals going up along the edge of the new fencing, and the elaborate entryway concept has also drawn interest.

“There are just a lot of different possibilities out there,” Piquette said.

“We want something that appeals to the youngsters who are the primary users. And something that is relatively damage-(resistant),” she said.

The decision who to award the roughly $2,000 arts budget to won’t be made until after the fencing is put up.

“We would rather not rush into something,” Piquette said, “until we know what’s there.”

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