Pin It

Losing Ground 

Local skaters aren’t giving up on improvements under the freeway

click to enlarge Skateboarders want the city to renovate the skate park under I-90 downtown. - CHRISTIAN WILSON
  • Christian Wilson
  • Skateboarders want the city to renovate the skate park under I-90 downtown.

Back in early November, local skateboarders were just two days away from seeing a design firm’s plans to revamp the Under The Freeway skate park in downtown Spokane. Now they could be years away.

The Spokane Parks Department said earlier this year that it planned to spend $300,000 left over from a 2008 sports bond to renovate the park. They hired Grindline, a Seattle-based skate park design company, to plan the overhaul. This fall, though, the Park Board put that plan on hold, worried it might not be the best way to spend that money. (The Parks Department isn’t authorized to spend more than $45,000 without the board’s approval, says Facilities Maintenance Supervisor Aaron Champagne, who’s overseeing the project.)

Joel Barbour, a local skater who’s helping organize supporters, says he’s been going to Under The Freeway (UTF) skate park since he was a kid. The park is important, he says, because it’s accessible in any weather and because it’s historic.

“Think of Spokane — what do we have that’s iconic?” he says. “The pavilion, the clock tower. For skateboarders, [UTF] is what we think of.”

Greg Connolly, a 40-year-old skateboarder who was part of the department’s original design oversight team for the park, will speak on behalf of the skating community at a Park Board meeting Dec. 13. He calls Spokane skateboarders “a marginalized community” the city doesn’t want to support.

But Park Board President Randy Cameron insists board members don’t have any problem with UTF. Instead, they’re worried it’s in the path of big changes from the city or the state transportation department. The park, under I-90 near McClellan and Fourth, is on the edge of the Division Street Gateway Project, a plan to improve one of the main entrances to the city. The project has been around for three mayors’ terms without much progress, but Cameron says board members believe it will come to life under Mayor David Condon.

“I can’t see anybody being mad that we don’t go forward knowing it’s at risk of changing dramatically or being destroyed,” Cameron says. “Would you build a home on property that you don’t know what its short-term future is, let alone its long-term future?”

For now, Cameron says the board has asked the Parks Department for a list of projects that could use the $300,000, with an emphasis on safety improvements. The board will get that list at the end of the year and use it to budget next year’s work, which could leave out any mention of UTF. The roof of the Looff Carousel in Riverfront Park could top the list, he says.

But Connolly still plans to make his argument for the skate park. Not only is he skeptical that Condon will be able to make progress on the gateway project, but he thinks decision-makers are missing a bigger point. Good skate parks draw visitors the same way other outdoor recreation facilities do.

Says Connolly: “I think [the Park Board is] a little bit short-sighted as far as what the skating community can bring to the rest of the community.” 


  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Starting Small
  • Starting Small

    A village of tiny houses in Spokane Valley could serve as a model for fighting homelessness in the region
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Drastic Action
  • Drastic Action

    Spokane among seven school districts sued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction; plus, trio of police-chief finalists are in town
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion

Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Heidi Groover

  • Brachytherapy Breakthrough
  • Brachytherapy Breakthrough

    A new option for treating skin cancer skips the scalpel
    • Dec 1, 2014
  • It's Exploding
  • It's Exploding

    Why lawmakers and cops are worried about people blowing themselves up
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • GU Shake-Up
  • GU Shake-Up

    The woman overseeing reports of sexual assault at Gonzaga resigns; plus, a new study on Lakeland Village
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone



election 2016

trail mix

Readers also liked…

  • The Selfie Generation
  • The Selfie Generation

    Ambitious and independent, we millennials are defined by no one but ourselves. Now please love us
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation