|The Coal PadBuilding the Glacier Skate ParkStory by Jeremy Miller
The Glacier Skate Park came about because of a need to have a place to ride. After skating at various do-it-yourself skate parks, I saw the capability of skateboarders who built their own park. Many of these projects, such as the Burnside Skate park in Portland, Oregon, started at unused, derelict sites underneath highway overpasses.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), we don’t have an overpass in Glacier to shelter our project, but we were blessed with a concrete coal pad and a big pile of coal. With some effort, we created the Glacier Skate Park, and it’s become well-known in the DIY skateboard world.
The project finally broke through the red tape at the end of last summer after being shut down for three years. We got some work done before fall hit, which included erasing the old part to make way for a newer, better-built concrete skate park. Drainage has been an issue since we first got started, and we installed a drain in the Phase 1 area. In a way, the downtime has been good for the future of the park because it gave us time to learn more about skate park building and also what to build.
This park is significant and worthwhile, not only because of the incredible location and the local need, but also because having full creative control to build the most optimal thing we can come up with is crucial. Skateboarding is a creative outlet in itself, and the nature of the activity is seeking out new and different things to ride, whether it’s a backyard swimming pool, a concrete ledge in the streets, a drainage ditch, or in this case, organic terrain built by skateboarders. It’s exactly what “The Coal Pad” is about – meeting the needs of the community.
As soon as we had our first small piece built, people took interest and came to check it out. It became apparent how much this park was needed as families from around the county began bringing their kids to skate. It has also been popular throughout the Mt. Baker school district and with visiting skaters from near and far.
The future of the Glacier Skate Park is bright, with permits under our belt and quite a bit of set-up work done to continue construction. As soon as conditions for building get better this spring, we will be hard at work raising funds, gathering materials and the necessary tools to finish the job.
The existence of this park is based on volunteer labor, donations, out-of-pocket cash and a legal agreement between the Glacier Skate Park Association and Joe King, the landowner. Joe has been extremely gracious to allow us to build the park on his land, and many people are very grateful for his generosity. Now it’s up to the community to ensure the construction and upkeep of what will be something special. The skate park is completely free to use and open to the public, with a “skate at your own risk” policy.
The park is administered by the Glacier Skate Park Association (GSPA), which was formed to administer, maintain and protect the future of the park. We have been fairly inactive the past few years with the exception of legal work and obtaining our conditional use permit, but the GSPA will be busy raising funds to be spent on construction and meeting the conditions stated in our permits.
Sanitation is a major concern of the skate park community, the landowner, and the county heath department. We ask that users of the skate park respect the wishes of the landowner and use the public bathroom facilities located in Glacier. We also ask your help in keeping litter, graffiti and other non-skate activities at bay.
Be on the lookout for fundraising events in the future, the third annual Bellingham Skate park contest and other events. New T-shirt graphics, art shows, raffles and impromptu barbeque skate sessions will be in the works this spring and summer.
The GSPA is currently working on obtaining 501(c)3 status, but we are a fiscally sponsored nonprofit supported by the Whatcom Parks and Recreation Foundation. Receiving the go-ahead has been a milestone achievement for our group of advocates and the community is grateful.
Jeremy Miller is a Glacier resident, founder of the Glacier Skatepark Association, an avid skateboarder and advocate.