Y plans to open indoor skate park

By Sara Bruestle | Jul 31, 2013
Artwork by: Jason Singler A mock-up of the Mukilteo Family YMCA’s indoor skate park features a “mini ramp” that is 30 feet wide.

Up to 40 youths skate at the Mukilteo Family YMCA’s skate park every day – except when it rains.

And it rains a lot.

“The Muk,” as the regulars call it, was closed 70 days out of the year in 2012 and either opened late or closed early another 100 days, all due to rain.

When it isn’t wet out, The Muk is very popular: Each year more than 800 youths sign up to skate at the 19,000-square-foot outdoor skate park.

Kristin Ebeling, the skate park director, said it’s heartbreaking to see all their skaters and scooterers “bummed out” when the park is closed.

“We built this awesome skate park, but kids can’t use it 170 days a year, because it’s rained out,” she said. “Kids come here and they want to skate, but it’s opened and closed, opened and closed. It’s frustrating.”

It hit Ebeling that an indoor skate park would keep youths skating all 352 days the Y is open – rain or shine – and so Operation 352 was born.

The indoor park, estimated to cost $25,000, would divide the Y’s 2,500-square-foot Youth Development Center in half. Plans include a 30-foot-wide mini ramp with heights ranging from 3-5 feet.

“We have this really big youth center, but we don’t see a lot of participation,” she said. “So why not put an indoor ramp in there?”

“The kids in the teen center are always trying to ride their skateboards in there when it rains, anyway.”

Other features would include moveable bank ramps, ledges and rails, sound buffers and a viewing barrier to protect onlookers.

The other half – about 1,200 square feet – would still serve as the youth center, featuring a pool table, video games and other activities.

A skateboarder for 12 years, Ebeling said skating in the rain is not only dangerous – the water makes ramps and other skating surfaces slippery – it warps the wood and rusts the metal bearings of your board.

“Kids into other youth sports like soccer, baseball, swimming or basketball have opportunities all year round, but skateboarders, we’re so weather dependent,” she said.

“You essentially cannot skateboard in the rain at all.”

Adding to skaters’ frustration, the number of indoor skate parks is limited. Right now, there’s the Bellevue Skate Park or The Garage in Everett, said Cory Armstrong-Hoss, associate executive director.

He said skateboarders sometimes go to places they’re not supposed to, like in school facilities or in mall parking lots, and get kicked out.

“We are optimistic the indoor park will serve not only kids from Mukilteo, but from south Snohomish County and north King County,” Armstrong-Hoss said. “There’s a derth of places where it’s OK for them to come and skate, so we’re excited to provide a unique experience to those skaters.”

The Mukilteo Y offers skateboard passes, events and programs, including skate and scooter camps from May through September.

“We just serve a tremendous number of kids back there, but of course when it rains everything stops,” Armstrong-Hoss said. “It makes it very difficult for us to create programs.”

Alex Lawson, a Y volunteer and skater, filmed and edited a YouTube video to promote Operation 352.

“Our skate park is world class, but we hardly ever get to skate it because of the weather here,” said Lawson, 15. “All the local skaters here, what are they supposed to do on the rainy days? It would be nice to keep the kids skating every day.”

When The Muk is closed due to rain, Lawson said he mopes around at home.

“I usually just stay home and wish I could skate,” he said.

The Y’s goal is to raise $15,000 in cash and another $10,000 in donated materials and labor.

So far, the Y has raised $5,000. A Raise the Ramp dinner and auction was held Friday, raising $3,000.

If all goes well, the Y will start construction in September and open the park before Thanksgiving.

“I know it’s probably going to start raining in October, so I hope we can do it sooner than that,” Ebeling said. “It all depends on when the money trickles in and when they’re able to volunteer their time to help us build.

“I’m really passionate about skateboarding. If we can continue to keep our youth active and out of trouble, then let’s give them another skate park to skate.”

For more on Operation 352 or to donate, go to www.ymca-snoco.org/operation352 or call 425-493-2405. The deadline to donate is Aug. 31.

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