WSDOT put a halt on their Longacres Skatepark demolition park and is allowing the skating community a chance to lease the property. (Leah Abraham | Renton Reporter)

WSDOT put a halt on their Longacres Skatepark demolition park and is allowing the skating community a chance to lease the property. (Leah Abraham | Renton Reporter)

Longacres Skatepark gets a fighting chance

WSDOT is allowing skaters to start the permitting process to lease the land.

The local skating community can take a breath of relief to know Longacres Skatepark isn’t facing doom.

Washington State Department of Transportation is allowing the community to go through the permitting process to lease the Renton skatepark.

The Longacres Skatepark, which sits on a dry stretch of concrete beneath Interstate 405, was built a year ago on WSDOT land without permission. Local skaters Jack Skeel, Brian Foss and their friends headed the project are noticing a need for a free and covered skatepark.

WSDOT got wind of the project in November and informed Skeel of its plan to demolish the skatepark. Determined to save their passion project, Skeel and Foss rallied nearly 20 skaters and supporters from South King County at the Renton City Council meeting Nov. 20 and asked the city for its help to save the skatepark.

While the city had little to no power over the matter, WSDOT heard the community’s cries and concerns.

Following the council meeting, WSDOT decided to allow the skaters to go through a permitting process to lease the land.

“It’s safety for the public,” said Marqise Allen in a phone interview Nov. 30.

“We’ve got to be able to get access to the facilities, which is the bridge, and maintain the highway. It also comes down to, more importantly I think so as well, the safety of the folks out there…. We want to give the folks there every opportunity they have to be able to keep the skatepark and go through the process.”

State Rep. Zack Hudgins is working with Skeel and his friends to move forward with the process. In a phone interview Dec. 6, Hudgins said he has been in conversation with Reps. Steve Bergquist, Judy Clibborn and Sen. Bob Hasegawa regarding the matter.

“We’ve been talking to the city of Renton and WSDOT about finding a solution,” he said. “We are hoping we can work this out.”

So far, it’s been a learning curve for Skeel and his friends.

“Brian Foss and I are looking into the possibilities of finding a fiscal sponsor for the park,” said Skeel in an email Dec. 6. “We have spoken to the leaders of other DIY skate parks around the country about how their legalities work and they used the term ‘social engineering’ to kind of describe the process. Essentially saying, there is no document down at Olympia that somebody can just go find and we can sign and the park becomes legal.”

He also said skateboard companies have shown interest in helping them with fees and insurance.

Longacres Skatepark was born out of a need, according to Skeel. There isn’t any other skate park in the region that’s covered and free to the public. The existing covered skateparks are privately owned and are used mainly for classes.

The skatepark includes various hips, ditches and ramps, all of which were built by Skeel, Foss, and a number of friends who work in the construction industry. He estimates the skatepark took approximately $6,000 and more than 40,000 pounds of concrete to build. The group raised nearly $2,400 on GoFundMe for construction, and the rest was paid out of pocket.

CORRECTION: Sen. Bob Hasegawa was identified as a representative in a previous version of the story.

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