Steward of the skate park | Kitsap Week

County lacks workers, so Kingston resident takes site's care into his own hands

KINGSTON — Since the Billy Johnson Skate Park was built more than 10 years ago, the community has sought a caretaker. The search is over. The skate park is adopted.

Long-time skate park user Anthony Wayland, 24, took it upon himself to help maintain the park. Though he has some long-term goals, he’s taking his time.

“We’re starting with baby steps right now,” Wayland said.

For now, keeping the park clean and making it appealing to a wider-range of people is enough to keep his plate full. Wayland met with Kitsap County Parks Stewardship Coordinator Lori Raymaker on Monday, and she announced Wayland is a steward of the park. Officially, she said, he is considered an adopt-a-park group.

In February, Raymaker told Kingston’s Village Green Metropolitan Park Commission it can no longer maintain the same level of park service it once had. Wayland’s enthusiasm for taking care of the skate park is a welcome change.

“That’s one park we have struggled with for years,” Raymaker said. “Now with their support … It’s just amazing.”

Though he is the only official volunteer right now, there are others who have shown interest and have already been helping out. Because it is not certain who will continue to volunteer with Wayland, their names are not disclosed. In the past, Raymaker said high school groups helped care for the park. But those groups have graudated, and with the demands on current students, she said it’s difficult to find ongoing support.

Kitsap County spent $920,372 in acquiring the skatepark, which sits on 1 acre of land. Wayland does not want to see that money go to waste.

“We spent [$920,372], I don’t want to see it get bulldozed or destroyed,” he said.

The Kingston Citizens Advisory Council Parks and Trails Committee began searching for stewardship since the park was built, committee member Walt Elliott said. The issue of park maintenance has always been an issue with the community, he said.

Now, skateboarders are “taking ownership of the park, which I think is exciting for us,” Elliott said.The key to any park, he added, was for those who use them to be the caretakers.

Raymaker echoed Elliott.

“It’s really nice to have a group utilizing the park and have them step forward.”

Already, Wayland and a few others have taken it upon themselves to pressure wash the skatepark, in an attempt to remove unwanted graffiti. They have also installed a trash can; now chained to a pole.

In the near future Wayland would like to host two skateboard competitions. Money, he said, would be put into a skatepark fund that can only be touched for skatepark-related issues.

To host a competition the county’s risk management and legal departments will need to review a special event application request. Any money raised could go toward park renovations and maintenance, Raymaker said. As she understands it, Wayland wants any competitions to be family oriented.

Wayland’s five-year plan for the park is to have seating installed and a water fountain. He would also like to see a roof over the skate park. While accomplishing all, or even some, of his goals could be a ways off, Wayland would like to at least get the wheels turning on skatepark maintenance and expansion. He wants the graffiti to be art, not rude signs, comments or other tags. The regular skaters at the park are not the ones doing the tagging, he said, but tagging in the skatepark and around town end up bringing negativity back to the skating community.

Wayland’s rapport with the skating community will help curb unwanted graffiti and behavior, Raymaker said. She will continue to work with the park’s new steward, helping guide him on what he can and cannot do. So far, she said, it’s worked out. Having someone the community can go to discuss issues or ideas with the skate park is an added benefit.

“He’s gotten a lot of support from the skating community,” she said.

Wayland would like to see the skatepark attract more skaters, including families who have children who want to skate. He wants people there.

In the ongoing effort to make Kingston more of a destination and less of a ferry landing, Elliott said the skatepark could be a useful element. The park can help in serving visitors of all ages.

In the mission to help with the upkeep of the skatepark, a Facebook page was setup (search Kingston Skatepark). Wayland said he welcomes input from the community.

Construction on the Kingston skatepark was completed in 2002. Wayland has ridden the park off-and-on ever since. Even if he is not in the area in the next few years, he wants to know it will be there to skate on.

“Even if I move, I would like to be able to come back and shred my hometown park,” he said.