An outdoor playground for boarders, bikers and golfers could rise from the ashes


Staff Writer

An outdoor skate park, a climbing pinnacle and barbecue pits are all proposed elements of the Burton Adventure Recreation Center, a park on the site of the old Burton Elementary School.

The site is currently home to an indoor skate park, a partly playable disc golf course and a rough BMX track with jumps. But planning committee members envisioned much more and presented their dreams for the park to the Vashon Park District board on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

On Vashon as in many communities, skateboarders are often prohibited from railings, steps and planters ripe for tricks. But the committee planning the Burton Adventure Recreation Center wants to create a place that welcomed these oft-shunned stuntmen.

In the plan are such attractions as a 60-foot by 40-foot concrete pad for outdoor skating and riding, a bike path for those at all skill levels and an outdoor “playground” for skateboarders, skaters and bikers with steps, grind bars and bridges.

But first on the agenda is the removal of the noxious weeds that have invaded the park since it was last actively maintained, park officials said.

Volunteers from the community and the government-funded service group Americorps have already begun the mammoth task of tearing out the invasive scotch broom that obscures much of the disc golf course and parts of the bike track, but they have many hours to go. They’ll even need heavy equipment to do part of the job.

The park district was awarded a grant of $10,000 from King County Youth Sports last year, and park commissioner Kristen Pesman said she’d like the park board to allocate an additional $10,000 to the Burton park for completion of the first stage of its redevelopment. The first $11,820 will be spent removing weeds, and the rest will go to restoring the disc golf course, bike track and picnic area and pouring a concrete slab for skating.

While the $20,000 won’t be spent on any of the more extravagant possibilities park advocates hope for, Pesman stressed that they are necessary first steps.

“That’s unfortunately not the really fun stuff,” she said. “But we’ve got to clear it out to find out actually what we have.”

Disc golf player and planning committee member Bob Grubbs explained how overgrown parts of the park are.

“There are places where the scotch broom is 15 feet high,” he said. “You just can’t play in that. You’ll lose a disc in one throw, which is no fun.”

Still, five of the course’s nine holes are “rough,” but playable.

“There’s a lot more clearing that’s going to have to happen before three more holes are playable,” Grubbs said.

He said a few weeks prior, when he had visited the park, there were four men playing disc golf.

“They had come all the way from Auburn, and they were willing to take the ferry all the way over to play on this crappy course just to play something new,” Grubbs said. “The dedication of the disc golfer to find new challenges — that was pretty amazing.”

Pesman said a few young users of the parks — bikers, skaters and skateboarders — were part of the park planning process, but she’d like to get even more park user input in the coming months.

“I’d like to get together with some kids to find out some ways to fundraise specifically for the skate park or the bike track,” she said.

She said concerts and picnics were fundraising events with potential.

“My dream is to really get these kids involved and have them put some muscle in to really get this to fly.”

Pesman, who is a skater herself, said she saw the value of the skate park in a community with few options for those uninterested in organized sports.

She said she’ll be looking for various grants in the coming months and will first apply for a grant that Starbucks awards to community parks.

And in one year, she said, Islanders will be able to play a whole round of disc golf, enjoy a picnic or a barbecue outdoors near the skate park and ride or walk the newly constructed park perimeter path. She said the community will also have made progress on the bike track and the outdoor “playground” for bikers, skaters and skateboarders.