Seattle Parks warns people to not even “set foot on” Green Lake’s Duck Island, considered by the city a wildlife habitat, where skateboarders have built a concrete skate bowl.
It probably seemed like a pretty incredible idea at the time.
In an answer to a Nike SB challenge to build a skateboard park or expand an existing one, a crew of local boarding aficionados hauled concrete mix, tools, wood, rebar and other construction material by boat to an island in the middle of Seattle’s bustling Green Lake.
They mixed the concrete by hand and built a small skateboard bowl, took turns doing tricks, filmed the whole thing and won a prize — all without initially attracting much attention.
But, as it often turns out, it was all fun and games till the police were called.
“We’re used to damage to the parks,” Seattle Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Rachel Schulkin said, “but this is significant enough that we want the police involved. If a crime was committed, we’d like the people responsible to be held accountable.”
Seattle police did not immediately answer requests for information about the skatepark.
KING 5 reported the existence of the illicit skatepark, which isn’t more than the makeshift skating bowl, earlier this week after lake-goers reported hearing the impact of hardened rubber on concrete from the shoreline.
As late as Wednesday afternoon, skateboarders could be seen enjoying the unsanctioned bowl.
The Nike SB Project 58 Do It Yourself project challenged 14 skateboard shops across the country to either extend an existing skatepark or build their own and upload a video so fans could vote on winners.
The project’s webpage, hosted by TransWorld SKATEboarding, featured the videos from across the country, and announces the three winners who were awarded $1,000 to continue the project, including 35th North, a Capitol Hill shop. (The webpage was inaccessible Thursday afternoon.)
But shop owner Tony Croghan said neither he nor his employees had anything to do with the island skatepark.
He explained that the shop chose from the locally submitted videos and sent them to contest headquarters.
“People submitted it and we forwarded it to the contest itself,” Croghan said. He said his shop had not received any contest money.
By Thursday morning, the video was not longer playable on the project’s main page, but all other entrants’ videos were. A direct link to the 3½ minute video was still accessible for most of Thursday morning, however. It was eventually taken offline.
“We do not condone the creation of skate spots where they are not permitted by law. TransWorld reviewed the entry, and it will be expelled as it broke the contest rules,” said a Nike spokeswoman in an emailed statement, adding that the contest rules indicated that all federal, state and local laws and regulations should be followed.
The video begins with a stuttering Google Earth zoom from outer space to tiny Duck Island, then features the unidentified builders picking up a pallet of concrete mix at Home Depot.
Wooden stakes are pounded into the island’s dirt after a canoe ride, and a mold is erected before workers get busy mixing concrete in a tarp. A woman can be seen with a hose, filling 5-gallon buckets.
The bowl is smoothed out with hands and hand tools. A man sleeps on a pile of materials as the video cuts to more than two dozen waterfowl floating by. A bearded man paddles a boat with a shovel, then the boarders try out their creation.
A pit-bull pup later swims to the island to join the fun.
Parks spokeswoman Schulkin said it was not clear whether Duck Island has any official protected status. However, she said, the city has always treated it as a wildlife habitat, telling people they are not supposed to “set foot on it.”
On Wednesday, park employees went to the island to assess the situation and determine what to do next.
Removing the structure, and other garbage and leftover rebar, concrete mix and other material, could require a floating dock, Schulkin said.
“It’s definitely surprising and on the more extreme side of things,” she said. “It’s a big effort but they obviously didn’t think about the damage they were doing to city land.”