Editors note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the RCO grant applied for as $600,000, not the correct amount of $500,000. This has been corrected.
What was once just an idea of a skatepark in Westport is nearing 100% of the donations it requires to get a huge grant that will bring the park to life.
With more than $110,000 raised, more than 70% of the required amount for the match, the organizers are trying to get the remaining funds together to reach $150,000, said Darcia Davis, who has led the effort from the start.
“I probably started the ball rolling before COVID,” Davis said. “I have a son that skateboards. I grew up with kids that skateboarded.”
The idea for a skatepark isn’t entirely new, but it’s an idea whose time has come, said city Administrator Kevin Goodrich. The skatepark would also have a pump track, which is an undulating track where bicycle riders use their momentum to generate speed.
“It’s been talked about for many years. We’ve been kind of waiting for an opportunity,” Goodrich said in a phone interview. “I think they came to a council meeting to start with and broach the idea. We started brainstorming and looking into potential locations.”
Westport’s skating options are pretty much nonexistent at present, Davis said. The skatepark applied for a $500,000 grant from the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office. The scope of the project is $750,000, Davis said, and to be eligible for any award 20 percent of the total costs need to be raised. The Grays Harbor Community Foundation is the fiscal sponsor of the project.
“During COVID, our community had nothing to offer that wasn’t traditional sports,” Davis said. “I feel like it’s great for non-traditional sports kids.”
The proposed skatepark will be located near the library and grocery store — its visibility and proximity to a bus stop are both big pluses for the park, making it the best of several options the city looked at, Davis said.
“There’s three other locations we looked at. Those other locations were a little too exposed to weather, and not safely accessible to kids, frankly,” Davis said. “We really wanted it to be in the public eye.”
The land for the park was originally owned by the Druzianich Foundation, Davis said. Goodrich said the city had been in the process of acquiring the land as the idea to develop a skatepark was unfurling — a neat example of a round peg in a round hole.
“The two things kind of came together. It just made sense. The city has taken a position of, we want to support the community effort as best we can,” Goodrich said. “It comes from the community, for the community. That’s how good projects should work.”
The park concept was done by Grindline Skateparks, a Seattle-based company that designs skateparks. The initial project called for a million dollar price tag, but that was downscaled somewhat, Davis said.
“Our city has never put anything into our parks. It’s time,” Davis said. “Let this be one more draw. Let this be something kids can access easily and safely.”
Davis’ son Doriahn Davis-Patecek has been part of the project as well.
“My mom is the chairperson of the South Beach Parks and Rec Committee and I skate, so naturally I got involved and wanted to help with this project,” Davis-Patecek said in an email. “I’m excited to see people get out of the house and have some fun.”
Part of the appeal of the project for the city is making Westport into more of a destination for a certain kind of tourist, who come for the surfing and other outdoor sports that are rarer to see.
“This project, and the scale of it, we’re talking about making it almost a destination for tourism,” Goodrich said. “If you have the right kind of a park, you could have competitions.”
If the community is able to meet the funding goals and get the grant, the project would begin construction next year, Goodrich said.
“Spring of next year, realistically, if we could get design stuff done and permitting,” Goodrich said. “It’s in a great location. It’s accessible. It’s got parking.”
Goodrich said he’s excited for the possibility of the pump track, though he joked that he was wary of injuring himself in the skating area. Davis-Patecek was less reticent.
“I’d really like to see anything beneficial for the youth of Westport,” Davis-Patecek said. “I think this skatepark and pump track is only the beginning.”
Donations can be made to the fund at www.gh-cf.org/online-donation by selecting the Westport Community Skatepark and Pump Track from the dropdown menu.
Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.