CITY OF BELLEVUE, WA
Mayor Mike Creighton

BELLEVUE SKATE PARK PROGRAM

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

The Bellevue Skate Park is Washington State’s only municipally operated, indoor skate park. The park is used by skateboarders and in-line skaters (roller blades). The Skate Park features an array of wooden obstacles and ramps that challenge skating enthusiasts. A supervised facility that teaches skaters safety and provides a positive environment for the sport as an alternative to skating on public streets and private property. The Skate Park is open to youths and teens Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and has extended weekend hours on Saturday and Sunday.

2. When was the program created and why?

In 1992, approximately sixty teen-aged skaters, involved in the City of Bellevue’s Youth Link program, proposed the idea to have a permanent area for teens to skate. Prior to this time the negative image of youth and teens skating on private and public property depicted them as young people "hanging out" with idle time. The City was concerned about the negative image of skaters and the hazard of skaters running into pedestrians and cars on streets and private property. In 1993, the Bellevue City Council agreed that skaters needed a designated space. Working together, city engineers and skaters, designed and created a 3,600 square foot municipal skate park. In 1994, the Bellevue Skate Park opened with the following goals:

  • Teach teens proper and safe skating techniques.
  • Serve as an alternative to illegal skating on private property and public streets and sidewalks.
  • Reduce vandalism/crime committed by youths and teens.
  • Provide opportunities for formal and informal skating events.
  • Provide an avenue for teens to congregate and participate in a positive activity.
  • Build individual self esteem and reduce the negative image of skaters.

3. How do you measure the program’s effectiveness?

Four measurements are utilized to determine the effectiveness of the Skate Park program; customer service; program quality; number of participants and safety records. The program is evaluated continuously and information is gathered in formal and informal formats. Skaters complete a membership form in order to have access to the park, which provides the City with information for insurance and statistical purposes. To date more than 7000 youths and teens have membership in the Bellevue Skate Park Program. Statistical information is kept on peak usage time for the skate park. Included in the skate park’s curriculum are a wide range of special events from professional demonstrations to nationally recognized amateur competitions. All skaters are required to wear a helmet, knee and elbow pads and follow the Skate Park Code - "Working together to make the skate park fun and safe for everyone."

Since the opening of the Bellevue Skate Park there has been a decrease in skate-related crimes in Bellevue. In 1994, skate related crimes were listed at 500 as compared to only 50 skate-related crimes listed in 1996. In addition to reduced skate-related illegal activities, security personnel and building managers for private property now pass out free skate park passes when suspending skaters from their property. This practice reduces the tension and negative images between businesses and skaters and encourages youths and teens to enjoy this sport in a positive, safe environment.

4. How is the program financed?

The Bellevue Skate Park program is primarily sponsored by the City of Bellevue, Park & Community Services Department. The Skate Park is a revenue generating program for the City. A minimum charge pays for park maintenance and renovation of skating ramps for skaters. As well as providing special events, the park also provides several classes and camps, for which there is a charge. Scholarships and volunteer opportunities are provided for youth and teens that cannot afford the initial $4.00 start up fee and the $2.00 per session fee. Annual revenue for the program is approximately $40k. Annual cost to provide the Bellevue Skate Park is $58k.

5. How is the community involved in the program?

The Bellevue Skate Park continues as a community-based program since the original concept was introduced. Teen skaters, involved in another City of Bellevue youth involvement program - Bellevue Youth Link, provided the first idea and the initial community support. The skaters were the driving force behind the creation of the Bellevue Skate Park. Their presentations to the Bellevue City Council and the Bellevue community gathered enough support for the expenditure of city funds. A Skate Park Advisory Board, created in 1997, gives skaters continued opportunity to be involved in park development. The Advisory Board provides an avenue for teens and the adult community to give feedback about the program. The Board also raises funds for the skate program and continuous park development.

6. What are the major lessons learned from the program?

  • A community can work with youths and teens to create a positive safe environment for activities that were "perceived" as negative behavior.
  • Youth and teens will work hard and be committed to a project that they are invested in, which in turn raises their level of community commitment.
  • Perceived negative behavior such as skateboarding can be reconstructed into a revenue generating program that reduces juvenile crime.
  • Adults working with youth and teens to create a positive safe environment will promote better relations between businesses and youth and reduce juvenile crime simultaneously.

7. Contact person:

Lee Springgate, Director, City of Bellevue Parks & Community Services Programs

P.O. Box 90012, Bellevue, Washington 98009-0012, (425) 452-6881

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