Skateboards may roll in Key Peninsula parks

Danna Webster, KP News Kids who live on the Key Peninsula need something they can drop in and do, something that is not organized. A skate park is good for kids of all ages. That is the belief of Chuck West. Building a skate park for KP kids is his dream. Back in the early ’90s, the West family took a vacation and, while traveling through Idaho, stopped at skate parks. West’s 12 year-old-son, Zech, loved doing maneuvers with his skateboard. He noticed the kids in Idaho were real good skaters, thanks to all their practice at the parks. Zech wanted to know why the peninsula didn’t have anything like that.
If you’d like to help Chuck West has a rare truck to raffle for the fund, a 1977 Leata, one of three prototypes for the 43 Leatas eventually built in 1978. Leata information is available at Sound Credit Union in Key Center has a Zech and Adrienne West Memorial Fund, where donations can be made. The fund-raising committee meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the fire department in Key Center.
When the family returned, West contacted the park board and the board offered half of the tennis-court area for skating. Some fund-raising efforts brought in $25,000, which was used to build a small, wooden half-pipe for the skaters. With the middle school next door, there was lots of interest. But as the kids grew older, and the wooden half-pipe deteriorated, interest faded for most of the kids. But not for Zech. He carried his love for the sport with him as he entered the Navy and he drew crowds in Italy when he rode his board. Tragedy struck the West family last summer, when Zech and his new bride, Adrienne, were killed in a car accident shortly after their wedding. Chuck West, a captain with the Key Peninsula Fire District, watched his family and himself go through the phases of grief and tragedy for which he was trained to help others. “As soon as something bad happens, I start resolving to do something to stabilize things,” says West. “I didn’t have any anger.” But he was looking for some resolution. Zech’s skate park became his focus. It was what he wanted. “After he died, I needed to resurrect that, make that happen—make it permanent,” West says. “I want to do something permanent that will be here for my lifetime and beyond, as a memorial to Zech and Adrienne. And I want to do something for the community, too, and the kids here. I’m tired of seeing kids playing in the parking lots.” West says baseball built Volunteer Park but it is time to add more options for kids. He wants a skate park with a concrete-only skate area, with restrooms, good parking and a small-kid play area—where a family can come with older and younger kids. Last year, West began the research. He talked with the Gig Harbor city manager and with the mayor about their skating facilities. His was initially directed to a spot at Volunteer Park (KP Sports Center and Fairgrounds). It is a good location, but with the planned Department of Natural Resources land acquisition on the north side of the peninsula, there are two attractive locations to consider. West says the KP Metropolitan Parks board has to make those decisions. A metro-park survey showed high interest in a skateboard park. West doesn’t think anyone on the park board is strongly against it. The new director for the KPMPD, Scott Gallacher, says the park district has agreed to look at the idea and do research with West. Gallacher says a skate park is a “very complicated project with all the necessary collaboration of many different partners.” “It’ll take some time,” he says. “We need to plan… make sure we’re looking for not just today and tomorrow but for 15 to 20 years.” According to Gallacher, KPMPD wants it to work and the main questions are about location and timeline. West says it is time to get the community involved. “I need kids who will use it to be involved with the design process. I need the whole community involved to apply for grants… Different groups to help raise money. Once the design is in hand, we can apply for grants,” West says. He hopes that different organizations will be liaisons to the park district and help find resources. “I’d like to see this progress within the year,” he says.