Skaters of all ages shredded it up Saturday, Sept. 9 at the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the BARC’s new pump track.
The BARC — Burton Adventure Recreation Center — also features an indoor skate facility, which, as was announced Saturday, is about to get some love too.
The Vashon Park District (VPD) has secured a $300,000 no-match King County grant to renovate the indoor skate building, Park District Executive Director Elaine Ott-Rocheford announced at the ceremony.
The grant, secured through the Parks Capital and Open Space Grants program, will pay for fully enclosing walls at the building instead of just chain link; a new roof; a new heater; a finished and insulated office; a platform for spectators and ADA seating; and new Skatelite material for the flooring.
The building is all that remains of the old Burton School, which was demolished in 2003. It was the former school’s outdoor gym.
The hope, Ott-Rocheford said, is that the new work on the building will start in 2024.
In the meantime, the park doesn’t lack for new concrete.
Skateboarders and scooterers of all ages on Saturday competed in an inaugural set of time trials, the fastest skaters winning skateboards, shirts and other prizes. Musical acts “The Secret Agents” and “It’s All Happening” provided a soundtrack for the event.
“It’s awesome,” said 18-year old skateboarder Matthew Guevara. “We didn’t have all this a year ago. Having a park like this, on the island, is crazy.”
The new amenities at 10500 SW 228th St include a large “pump track,” or a looping, rolling concrete course in a circular shape, which was finished earlier this summer; memorial benches and space to play chess and checkers; new picnic tables and a gifted bouldering wall.
In a speech, Ott-Rocheford thanked volunteers, recreation manager Eric Wyatt, maintenance staff who kept the park in shape; VPD assistant Linda Stemer; the event’s sponsors and the BARC stewards — Jeremy Uttech, Bryan Ripka and Marco Gaul.
Ott-Rocheford singled out Judith Neary, director of the nonprofit RJ’s Kids, for her leadership on the project. Neary and her husband Ramon Ontiveros set out nearly seven years ago to create a more vibrant skatepark for Vashon.
Neary secured state grants and helping organize the donation drive, volunteer labor, contracting and permitting, Ott-Rocheford said, frequently with the help of Uttech.
“None of this would have happened without the incredible vision and dedication of this incredible woman,” Ott-Rocheford said, presenting Neary with a community service award. “Judith spearheaded this from start to finish. … We thank your tireless dedication to enriching the lives of Vashon Island youth.”
Altogether, RJ’s Kids and Judith Neary “have given us a de-facto rec center on the island,” Wyatt told The Beachcomber.
Without the BARC, kids on the island don’t have another place to go, Neary said — and this is a place that’s free and accessible for any young person.
“It’s gratifying” said Uttech, who started out working on the interior building and was then recruited by Neary to become the project manager and volunteer coordinator for the external work on the new park facilities.
“As soon as it was open, there were families hanging out,” he said. “It created space for everybody, all generations. … We’re looking forward to remodeling the indoor now … and adding on to this eventually.”
Those new additions would include skate obstacles around the perimeter of the pump track, Uttech said, and Neary said they’d like to add a place for horseshoes and a pickle ball court as well.
The BARC project, which was broken into four phases, began its final phase last winter. That work included the construction of a skating path at one side at the park, and a non-skating walking path at the other end of the park.
Funding for the final phase of the project was administered through the combination of the 2018 Youth Athletic Facility Small Grant and 2020 Youth Athletic Facility Large Grant, an amount that totaled what was awarded to RJ’s Kids by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.
Well-known Seattle-based skateboarding architect firm Grindline designed and constructed the pump track.