Shane Howard White Skateboard Park

BACKGROUND

For over 15 years various skateboard enthusiasts supported efforts to build a skatepark in Ketchikan. The first official response from the Borough was to place two steel quarter pipes outside the Parks and Recreation center building. This “park” was slippery in the rain and scorching in the sun. Skateboarders commented that when they came to skate they first had to throw back all the rocks from the nearby play area and then dry off the surface with towels and sweatshirts they brought from home. And, when they came the next time, they had to do it all over again. But, it was a start . . .

Youth involved in Ketchikan Youth Initiatives (KYI) initiated a renewed effort to seek a skatepark after that organization was formed in 2006 and had successfully opened a paintball park run by youth leaders.

Altaira Wilhelm, a member of the initial KYI Skatepark Users Group, said in a letter to the Borough Assembly:

“in 2007 when I was a Junior in High School I got around town on my skateboard and came to meet many of the other young skaters who would collect in downtown most days. These youth had nowhere to perform their sport and I quickly realized the need for a skatepark to get these youth out of the danger of the roads and angry shop owners. Most of the roads in Ketchikan are really rough to skate on and some of the few places that are good for skating are the doorways of buildings. In an incredibly rainy town this skatepark will create an after school activity where none exists for many youth. The project itself will create youth opportunities to get directly involved with the project and community; from organizing meetings or fundraising to coordinating other youth and volunteers in maintaining a safe and fun place for everyone.”

With the support of Taira and others, the effort continued with weekly meetings of youth and adult supporters and periodic meetings with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough seeking support and appropriate sites.

In 2010 the “park” at the Rec Center was dismantled when construction began on a new swimming pool at that site. The KYI Users Group continued to encourage the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly and Borough staff members to pursue the development of a professionally designed and built skatepark. A lot of research was undertaken about other skateparks in the state, regulations that might apply, design alternatives, the cost to construct, sources of funding and insurance, available sites and resources needed to build a concrete skatepark.

THE COMMITMENT TO DEVELOP

Finally the Borough proposed an ideal parcel of land, close to other sporting areas, in a
neighborhood with young families and schools, at the corner of Park Avenue and Schoenbar Road. KYI agreed to take on the role of developer, the Borough dedicated the land and a $150,000 budget, the City of Ketchikan stepped in to assist with moving power and telecommunications cables and waive building related permit fees and in May 2013 a grant agreement was signed by the Borough and KYI to transfer a parcel of land and make $150,000 available for reimbursement of construction-related expenses. In the interim, KYI sought the services of an engineer and a professional skatepark design/build firm, received proposals, and after an exploratory visit to the site, contracted with Liquid Stone Designs, LLC, a highly qualified family company from La Pine, OR.

The White family donated $75,000 to this project in memory of their grandson, Shane Howard White, the “skater kid.” The Tony Hawk Foundation granted $15,000 towards the cost of a roof and the local community raised the $5,000 matching grant required for that funding. Phase One of the park was funded!

A DREAM BECOMES A REALITY

On June 14, 2013 KYI broke ground for the new skatepark. (The slideshow of photos on this webpage chronicles the park’s development.)

Here’s the story from the eyes of an 8th grader, Bailey Robinson:

“In Ketchikan, Alaska; Jason Schomaker and Lori Linville, Liquid Stones Design, LLC, left La Pine, Oregon, with their two kids Happy and Axl ages ten years and seven years, to come up here and create a skate park with Ketchikan Youth Initiatives. They decided to build a family-friendly skate park that’s not too extreme yet not too mild. They planned a bowl for bowl skaters, and some flow for long boarders and especially some street obstacles for street skaters. Let’s start with the design. They are going to try and match it to what our community looks like, and being in Alaska, we’re all fishermen and women. So the Coast Guard has donated propeller shafts for some coping, big chain links to outline the park and a buoy that could be skateable with a bell at the top. It’s going to have a sea-like theme; with seaweed and possibly wild life designs. There will be grind poles, ramps and street features. The roof will be likely made of steel joists and with metal and Lexan materials. Altogether, this park is going to be the best one I have ever been to. With the school next to it, the recreational center up the hill and the all-purpose sports field across the street, it is a perfect site. Also with Deer Mountain in the background and one of Southeast Alaska’s most awesome salmon runs in the creek next it, it really captures the community. And that is what we are doing here in Ketchikan, Alaska to build a one-of-a-kind skatepark for our island, waterbound community of 13,000!”

On December 1, 2013 the skatepark was officially opened–after several hours of hard work by volunteers to remove snow and dry the surface so skateboarders could skate after Borough Mayor Dave Kiffer and Assemblywoman Agnes Moran performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony. KYI hastily put up a warning sign, “SLIPPERY WHEN WET!” to warn skaters of the danger associated with a concrete surface that has just been rained on or frozen; however, skateboarders found a way to use the park whenever the weather conditions allowed.

This state-of-the-art concrete skatepark fosters leadership and responsibility in young skaters, provides a safe place for under-served local athletes to develop and display their skills, and creates positive relationships between skaters and the police, local business owners and government officials.

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough supports this public park with a maintenance and operations grant provided to KYI on a reimbursement basis. Fortunately with a concrete park there is little cost to maintain the facility. The major cost is liability and accident insurance.

The KIC Construction Academy constructed a 12’ x 8’ equipment shed and youth artists are busy creating an “art shed” to store safety gear, brooms, blow dryers and more.

The Shane Howard White Skateboard Park is open 24/7 to serve skateboarders, inline skaters and scooters. Bicycles are not allowed as they can damage the surface of the park. It is not fenced off or under supervision, other than two web cams that stream live on this KYI website as an extra measure of safety providing a communications link with our town and its skaters. (Click HERE to sponsor an ad on the webcam page that pays for the internet service.)

All users are encouraged to wear safety gear: elbow, wrist and knee pads. Helmets are required. Parents and other volunteers are mentoring younger skaters about safe and respectful use of the park.

On September 14, 2014 over 100 people attended a “Skatepark Celebration and Roof Kick-off” on a sunny, bright day to enjoy an incredible Southern BBQ prepared by Mike Quick, rocking music by Scott Bowlen and fun for all who skated the park and watched the action.

In the Spring of 2016, the  Eagles Lodge sponsored a Biscuit and Gravy Kickoff to fund an engineering study to design a roof over the skatepark. The engineering drawings have been completed. Next will be to determine sources of funding and eligible contractors. (Money donated towards the skatepark roof not only funded the columns but also helped pay for the engineering design.)

  • SkatePark Images

  • Many local children, teens and adults have become regulars at the new skatepark enjoying a free, outdoor activity while learning and improving their skills. One girl, age 9, practiced daily and comment to an adult watching the skateboarders that she wanted to learn how to "drop in". A young adult overheard her comment and showed her how to "stomp on it." She was so excited to add this new skill to her skateboarding ability. Mentoring To Build Skills!