People who look for skatepark recommendations online can’t help but find “Northwest Skater” Dan Hughes, a Seattle-born skater for more than four decades. His experience confirms that a great skatepark encourages “kids of all ages to get out and breathe fresh air and get exercise.” And there’s your first clue about why the Sedro-Woolley Community Skatepark is so busy. Take a quick visit to the facility in the corner of Metcalf Park, whether to ride a skateboard or just watch, and you’ll discover that it’s indeed a great skatepark. It’s known as one of the best in the region, if not the entire state of Washington.
Dan, who has cataloged more than 1,000 parks in 30+ states, reports that the concrete at the Sedro-Woolley park is smooth and has good flow. The largest of the two bowls is so huge that it’s said people get down in it and can’t walk up and out on their own. Urban legend? Not so much.
The park’s many features account for its broad appeal. “A beginner and expert can both ride the same park because of this,” Dan says. “It also has some street elements incorporated into it which appeal to street skaters.”
Beyond the benefits of getting outdoors, Sedro-Woolley resident William Nelson has another reason to bring his son to the park: Joey learns “how to engage with risk,” says William. The youngster can test and push his limits in a safe environment with his dad along to keep an eye out.
Friends Preston Stankey and Brandon Belli visit the skatepark often. Preston, who lives nearby, says the park gets him out of the house frequently to skate. “I don’t need anyone else to do it and can do it anytime, unlike most other hobbies I enjoy,” he comments.
Jeremy Mason likes riding the “big bowl” at the skatepark. He points out the different concrete shapes and the “over-vert,” or curl that rises up and crests over 90 degrees. “You have options for all kinds of skaters,” Jeremy says. “You can catch air, if that’s your thing, or do a lot of grinding” (riding on the steel rim of the bowl).
The Perfect Storm
The Rotary Club of Sedro-Woolley brought the skatepark to life. As the project leaders talk about those days back in 2012, you get the feeling that the venture was meant to be. “How it happened was kind of a perfect storm,” recalls Doug Wood, who was president of the club at the time and seeking a project for his year-long term.
As the former town police chief, Doug observed that while other sports were supported in some way in the community, “there was really nothing for skaters.” He also believed a skatepark could serve kids from all income levels. Another member of the Rotary Club knew Jamie Jacobs, whose Woods Custom Concrete & Construction company in Bow had built more than 40 skateparks. Jamie made a rough—very rough—sketch of what the facility could look like, the rest of the club got onboard, and the park was built during the summer of 2012.
A Hands-On Club
A key force behind the project was Steve Massey, a club member with excellent connections. “Steve knows everyone,” remarks Mike Moser, current Rotary president. These contacts, coupled with the club’s tradition of hands-on work, enabled the organization to turn funds raised—just over $150,000—into a project worth more than twice as much. “We got the light poles donated, and the wiring done for free,” Steve says. “We also got the concrete at a great price.”
Local organizations bolstered the Rotary Club’s $50,000 contribution from its annual budget. The city of Sedro-Woolley dedicated $25,000 for materials, and the Soroptimists and the Sims Honda dealership chipped in too. The Cascades Job Corps Center sent over trainees to help with the labor. Local builders from Snelson Companies and Fisher Construction also assisted.
The Rotarians sought grants to round out the funding. They secured a substantial grant from the Jack and Shirley McIntyre Foundation, a Washington charity that funds arts and social services initiatives. Legendary skater Tony Hawk awarded the project $5,000 through his foundation, now called the The Skatepark Project.
The Carnival Comes to Town
Concrete wrangler Jamie Jacobs warned Doug Wood that when his group showed up to build the skatepark, it would be like a carnival had come to town. The crew clearly enjoyed their work, and as the project took shape the guys would skate after hours. “They were great skaters,” Doug remembers, and “they were hard workers too.” They built smooth concrete contours that have held up for nearly a decade and designed drainage that handles Skagit County’s wet climate.
A Skatepark in High Regard
When you visit the skatepark and watch, the community’s appreciation for the facility is apparent. There’s no graffiti and very little trash around. The Rotary Club members point out that it doesn’t hurt that the police department is right next door, but they add that there’s a culture of keeping the park clean and safe. City Parks & Recreation staff “take pride in maintaining it as a top-notch facility,” comments Nathan Salseina, operations supervisor. He adds that employees worked hard getting the site ready for the concrete too.
Skater Jeremy Mason observes that people who enjoy the park are respectful of each other. Although bikes are not allowed, if there’s not a big crowd of skaters no one makes much of a fuss. “Everyone can have a turn,” Jeremy says. And he asserts that skatepark users take extra care around younger kids.
Continued investment in Metcalf Park also speaks to the skatepark’s value to the community. After the skating area was complete, Rotary constructed a full restroom. Bleachers were installed so people can hang out comfortably. And Steve Massey and the club are not yet finished enhancing the skating. “I have a half-pipe to add,” Steve says.