Local skate park grant falls through

South Whidbey’s yet unbuilt skate and bicycle park has received some bad news.

Late last week, members of the South Whidbey Rotary Club learned that the state’s Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation had canceled a $50,000 grant that was to go toward building a skateboard park at South Whidbey Community Park. During the past year, the Rotary Club has raised about $95,000 in donations to cover the remainder of the costs of building the park. Without the grant, said Rotarian Jack Hoover Tuesday, the effort is an unexpected $50,000 in the hole.

“We only had about $5,000 to go when this happened,”he said.

The group had already submitted permits to build the park, which was scheduled to begin construction in April. Hoover said the grant money disappeared just days after Washington voters approved Initiative 747, a ballot measure that limits increases in property taxes.

The planned 10,000-square-foot park was designed to be used by skateboarders, in-line skaters and freestyle bicyclists. The Rotary Club and the parks district held a series of public meetings last spring to come up with design ideas for the park. A California design firm completed plans for the park during the summer.

Now the Rotarians and the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District — which will manage the park when it is complete — are in a tough spot. Hoover said he asked State Rep. Kelly Barlean to find out what happened to the grant and to determine if some or all of it could come back to the parks district. Without it, the Rotarians need more donations.

The group is still collecting money toward its goal. Anyone who wants to donate to the skate park can send a check to the South Whidbey Rotary Club Foundation at P.O. Box 444, Freeland, WA 98249.

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