Last May, Judith Neary and RJ’s Kids completed a state Youth Athletic Facilities grant, with the park district serving
as co-applicant, to secure funds for several major facility upgrades at BARC. The organization was awarded the
grant in September and will attempt to raise $75,000 for major capital improvements at the park.
On the grounds where the old Burton Elementary School once stood is now a 9.5-acre recreation complex originally envisioned by island architect Jim Gerlach that includes an indoor skate park, an 8,400-square-foot outdoor skate bowl, BMX bike trails and Frisbee golf course. What started in 1998 as a volunteer-staffed skate course with plans for an extensive climbing gym was modified several times before the park district began leasing the property from the Vashon School District in 2007. But when the park district encountered financial troubles in 2013, supervision for the indoor skate park was eliminated to cut costs, and the facilities were made free to use. Dedicated volunteers and a passionate user base have not deterred vandalism or substance use on the premises, but with grants from the county and state for programming and ambitious enhancements, the next chapter of BARC is about to be written.
Last October, Neary was approached by volunteer BARC
steward Marco Gaul, an islander and avid skater, for help
raising funds to make park improvements. After they consulted, she got a hold of the original park master plan — written
more than 10 years ago by members of a planning committee that consisted of a park district representative, community members and recreation users. After Neary read the plan, she said she realized the potential.
“When I started reading what the vision for the park was, I was like, ‘who knew?’ And I’m pretty sure if I didn’t know, the rest of Vashon doesn’t know,” said Neary. “It’s really a much bigger facility with a much bigger plan. So I got excited about it.”
In the master plan are a number of proposed renovations and developments for the site, including grind bars and quarter pipes for skaters, an outdoor performance staging area, an outdoor climbing wall, ADA-accessible walking and riding paths and an all-levels bike skills course. RJ’s Kids wants to see the plan through and will fundraise to match the $150,000 grant awarded to the organization for the construction of one feature of the skills course, known as a pump track.
A pump track is a riding course designed to propel bikers and, if paved, skateboarders and rollerbladers over a series of mounds without the need to pedal or push. A preliminary design for a concrete pump track at the park, created by West Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks, would complement the outdoor bowl that the company constructed there in 2014. Included in the design — called phase 2 of the BARC master plan — is additional skating infrastructure, an exercise station and native landscaping.
Your support and contributions will help make
major capital improvements at the park!