Hail to Neighbor Power! Royalty received in Roxhill.



Have you seen the Castle Park yet? Hail to Roxhill!

Last Saturday the park was officially opened. Despite the chill, hundreds of neighbors and kids with skateboards gathered in one of the city’s newest parks. Prizes were awarded for best tricks, and new skateboards were given to a special few newcomers. Time was set aside for five year-olds, for twelve year-olds, for teens. I appreciated that an organization called Skate Like a Girl was there to encourage girls to join the fun.


Video: Mat McBride talks about the volunteer effort that made it all happen.

After a five-year volunteer-powered effort, the Roxhill Park was renovated through a partnership between neighbors, the Parks Department, Department of Neighborhoods and a number of local businesses.  Roxhill now has a new skatepark, a fabulous new play area equipped with a castle, and plenty of play spaces with great plantings and an adjoining experiential wetlands (motto: “For Peat’s sake).   You can see some great pictures of happy neighbors crawling, swinging, and running through, over and around the  castle structure;  watch a video of the ribbon cutting on the West Seattle Blog.  It’ll make you smile.

swingBaby

The neighbor power and commuity spirit at the the Roxhill Park opening at SW Barton and 29th SW last weekend were irresistible.   I delighted in meeting the leaders of the Roxhill pack.

The project was conceived and led by an outstanding steering committee of local woman and men who came from diverse backgrounds; single moms, some unemployed, some with no children and some with more-then-full time jobs. Every one of them gave as much as they could to ensure that the under-served community of Westwood/Roxhill and the Delridge corridor would be a part of building a one-of-a-kind park.

With Mat and Whitney McBride at Roxhill Castle park

With Mat and Whitney McBride at Roxhill Castle Park

Each of the steering committee members spent significant hours on evenings and weekends canvassing the West Seattle business districts, as well as White Center. The enthusiasm and participation of the new businesses in the Roxhill area who wholeheartedly agreed to send food, employees, and in one case the owners, to come help build this park, continually bolstered their spirits.  Food and even a hotel room for the out of town contractor were donated by locals.  A few dedicated grandmothers brought fresh baked cookies through the drizzle.

Led by Mat and Whitney McBride — as well as their eight year old son Gabe — they worked with the Parks Department and Department of Neighborhoods to leverage resources.

The Parks Department contracted with Leather and Associates.  That company builds play equipment, yes, but they are known nation-wide for building community.  Their m.o. is to rely on volunteers from the community; it keeps costs down and community enthusiasm up.

Whitney applied for a $20,000 Small and Simple Project Fund grant and she was awarded enough to buy all the specialized tools needed by the hundreds of volunteers to build the play area.

The West Seattle Tool library opened up their stock for five rainy days last November when the community came together to build the play area.  That’s the deal with Leathers Associates. Working with the Parks Department and the neighborhood, the vision is created. Parks pays the contractor, then the Leather Association experts come with all the plans and materials;  the community comes together at the appointed date, and the project is built.  November in Seattle?  No problem for these volunteers.

When construction was completed, Whitney and neighbors donated all the tools back to the West Seattle Tool Library.  Imagine the possibilities for YOUR neighborhood!  All the tools to build a park are available for you to borrow.

“Time and time again that those who had the least gave the most. Inspiring doesn’t even begin to cover the wealth of emotions we went through during those five days in November. The mud, cold and the rain did little to discourage the amazing energy that permeated the site,” steering committee member Whitney McBride told me.

Just a few noble volunteers reached an entire community;  and with the help of more volunteers, the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces levy, a grant from Department of Neighborhoods,  the excellent support of DPR staffers Kelly Davidson and Shwu-Jen Hwang, and the regular presence of the mobile West Seattle Tool Library a park fit for royalty has been built. Well done, Roxhill!

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