A rainy day back-up plan was in place, but unnecessary, as the rain stayed away and Tulalip was gifted a pleasant mid-60s, sunny spring day. The perfect Washington weather to bring the community out in droves to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Debra Barto Memorial Skate Spark and Alpheus “Gunny” Jones Sr. Ball Field on Friday, April 15.
Youth of all ages, adults, and elders took in the good weather, complimentary assortment of BBQ food, and a variety of entertainment now available with Tulalip’s very own skate park and ball field. Those who arrived early enough received a novelty t-shirt with a custom a graphic commemorating the day’s event. The graphic was created by Tulalip artist Ty Juvinel.
There was a DJ playing hit music, providing the necessary soundtrack for the outdoor festivities. Taking place in and around the skate park were skate board clinics, demonstrations by local professionals, and even a skate competition for 12 & Under, 13-17, and 18 & Up. Members of the Skate Like A Girl organization were on hand with the equipment necessary to teach those with no skate boarding experiences the basics.
Meanwhile on the ball field, the younger kids were playing kickball and t-ball, while the older kids were busy showcasing their athletic prowess in spirited games of flag football.
Bouncy houses, face painting, and henna booths were also available to add in more variety to the grand opening celebration.
Giving even more significance to the day was the fact it was also Debra Barto’s, the skate park’s namesake, birthday. Members of Debra’s immediate family were on hand wearing pink remembrance shirts in her honor.
The Tulalip community looks forward to many more good days that see the skate park and ball field being utilized by people, from young kids to adults and elders, with sports, activities and entertainment for all.
It was back on May 3, 2014 that the Tulalip Board of Directors made a motion to approve funding to build a community skate park. The skate park’s purpose is to give Tulalip youth another recreational opportunity, while offering alternative sport modalities to youth not interested in the most popular reservation activities, such as basketball, volleyball, and weight lifting. Nearly 21 months after the Board motion, after much careful planning and collaboration with Tulalip skateboarders, the Debra Barto Memorial Skate Park officially opened on Friday, February 19.
There has always been a passion for skateboarding amongst Tulalip youth, but they didn’t have an outlet for that passion or a location to showcase their skateboarding skills on the reservation until now. The newly minted Tulalip skate park cost an estimated $400,000 and is nearly 12,000 square feet in size. It features a variety of skating elements including half-pipes, quarter-pipes, ramps, bowls, and grinding rails.
Ours is but one of the growing number of skate parks being built on Pacific Northwest reservations to address the recreational needs of Native youth. Recently, the Port Gamble S’Klallam, Muckleshoot, and Lummi reservations have opened skate parks of their own.
Seattle-based Grindline Skatepark, Inc was contracted for the design and construction of Tulalip’s skate park. Grindline emphasizes community engagement during the design process, and that was displayed during a number of collaboration meetings Grindline designers had with Tulalip skateboarders and the Board of Directors.
Grindline, who also built the Port Gamble S’Klallam skate park, is well-known for creating progressive and engaging skate parks with a design philosophy that each be tailored to its users and existing surroundings. To tailor to the Tulalip location, key aspects of our culture can be found in the skate park as stylized representations of a lake, river, waves and even an orca tail fin.
Prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony held at the skate park, there was a presentation to honor the skate park’s namesake Debra Parto. According to those who knew her best, her friends and family, Debra was a beautiful, kind and gentle spirit who had a nurturing energy to all. She loved helping people and supporting the youth in the Tulalip community.
Debra was familiar with skateboarding through her children and their friends. She became a big supporter of the sport and all of the youth who participated in it. For many years, she would listen to the youth’s dream of having their own skate park in Tulalip and she started dreaming with them. Debra was determined to see the youth’s dream to have skate park built on the reservation come to fruition. She supported youth in the request for funding in 2014.
Debra passed away June 24 of breast cancer at age 49, but her determination lived on through her children and all those youth she dreamed with. Now, we are able to honor her for her fight, encouragement, support and love with what is now the Debra Barto Memorial Skate Park.
“She wanted to make sure the young ones were happy and they have a fun, safe place to go,” said Debra’s son Shane McLean. “When you’re out there skating, you fall down a lot and get a lot of scrapes and bruises. That’s how I think my mom’s life was, with a lot of ups and downs, but she always got back up and kept on doing her thing.”
Having a skate park in our community will address many of the goals the Board and Youth Service workers are tasked to achieve for our Native youth. Understanding the need to support the youth who wish to pursue healthy, active lifestyles and provide them a safe and fun area to progress in their athletic interests has remained a constant mission for the Tulalip Tribes.
The commitment to Tulalip youth is commendable and goes to show we will continue to invest in them. As Board of Director Theresa Sheldon said at the ribbon cutting ceremony, “The true leaders are our youth, and any time we can give them a voice and a platform then that’s what we’ll do.”
In the next syəcəb issue we will be detailing the opening of the Alpheus Gunny Jones Sr. Ball Field. With the additions of the ball field and our skate park, the popular Tulalip Youth Center will continue to grow in capacity and further diversify the activities local youth can participate in.
The Fort Yuma Quechan (Kwatsan) Tribe listened to an offer Wednesday from Washington NFL team owner Daniel Snyder’s foundation to build a memorial skate park on its reservation, according to tribal member Kenrick Escalanti, who attended two meetings with foundation representatives at the tribal administration building on the Arizona-California border.
“They told us it wouldn’t cost us a thing, that we wouldn’t have to say anything and we wouldn’t have to support” the franchise’s controversial team name, Escalanti told USA TODAY Sports. “They said they were not asking for an endorsement or a photo op, they just wanted to help. But if you know their track record, we didn’t really believe that. â?¦ We know bribe money when we see it. ”
Escalanti, president of Kwatsan Media Inc., said his organization, which is leading a drive to build a skate park, has turned down the offer from the team’s Original Americans Foundation. Tribal administrator Vernon Smith said the tribe has not reached a decision on whether to ask more questions of the foundation or to leave the offer on the table.
“We just listened politely and said we’d think about it,” Smith said. “They told us there would be no stipulations, but I have heard otherwise from other tribes who have received things from them.”
The foundation was represented by executive director Gary Edwards and director Karl Schreiber, plus a park designer, according to Escalanti. “They showed us digital renderings of a skate park and what struck me was the designs were all in burgundy and gold,” Escalanti said. Those are the colors of the Washington NFL team.
The team issued this statement from the foundation: “Tribal leaders from the Fort Yuma Quechan (Kwatsan) Tribe invited and met with staff from the Original Americans Foundation to discuss projects that needed funding in Yuma. The conversation centered around eight projects that the tribe requested assistance for projects that improved their quality of life and at no time during our on-site discussion did the tribe object to working with our foundation.
“We are very proud of the more than 145 projects in partnership with 40 tribes that we have worked on and will continue to do what we can for those in need. We will maintain our foundation’s policy of not disclosing our private conversations with tribal leaders.”
A team spokesman said a statement from the foundation would be released later today.
Escalanti’s description of the two meetings, which together lasted nearly an hour, open a window on the nonprofit announced by Snyder in March to help Native American causes. Foundation reps told the tribe that they have 147 projects lined up involving about 40 tribes across the country. Escalanti said the reps added that about 100 tribes, including his, have participated in a survey concerning their needs.
Escalanti said no dollar amount was mentioned, but he said the budget for the planned Quechan Memorial Skatepark is $250,000 and “they offered to build it, like a blank check.” Kwatsan Media Inc., a nonprofit that runs a radio station, is accepting donations for the skate park, which will be dedicated to suicide prevention in Native youth.
“When we told them the skate park would be dedicated to fallen Native youth, you could see their eyes open up big, like they could smell good PR,” Escalanti said. “And that really irritated me.”
The first meeting with tribal leaders, including three council members, lasted about 20 minutes and the second with Kwatsan Media about 30 minutes, according to Escalanti, who attended both. Smith said he was able to attend part of the first meeting.
One council member asked foundation reps why the team cares about Native American causes now, Escalanti said. “Edwards said they always cared and this is not an issue of the (team) name,” Escalanti said. “He said the reason it comes up now is the team and the NFL have a diversity policy and they are trying to live by that.”
The foundation representatives said they have helped tribes already with backhoes, jackets and boots, according to Escalanti, who said the reps “kept name-dropping tribe after tribe, and president after president, even though they were promising us we could have the skate park and nobody had to know” where the money came from.
Edwards addressed the team name issue, according to Escalanti: “He said he is a proud ‘redskin’ and that the controversy is a non-issue. He said it is inaccurate to call it a slur. He said the name stands for pride, courage and intelligence. And he said people who oppose the name are part of a white, liberal agenda.”
Escalanti said that Edwards made an impassioned plea for Native American strength against white aggression: “The last words he said to us were, ‘We need to get stronger, because if we don’t, they will annihilate us.'”
STANWOOD — The city’s skate park got a makeover this month, with the older wooden ramps replaced by modular-style steel ones.
“It’s a lot more interesting and a lot more fun,” said Nate Brown, 19, of Stanwood, who was one of several people testing out the new ramps this week.
“It flows really good,” said Terrance Patterson, 22, of Arlington.
The Vito Z Memorial Skate Park NW features a mix of these ramps around a two-step concrete platform and skate rail. The skate park is open from dusk to dawn and is located in Heritage Park at 9800 276th St.
The city paid $60,000 for the new ramps, which were installed by the American Ramp Co. over a couple of days earlier this month.
Christie Connors, director of the Community Resource Center, helped organize a meeting about the project in March with local skaters. She was one of the original park organizers in the late 1990s.
“These improvements are long overdue,” Connors said. “I’m glad the city stepped up to provide skaters and others with a safe and healthy place to play in town.”
The Vito Z Memorial Skate Park was opened in 2000 by a group of Stanwood students and adults. The park is named in honor of Vito Zingarelli, a 1-year-old, who drowned in 1993.
The park can be reserved for private parties through the city’s Streets and Parks Department.
For more information about the park and reserving it for events go to the city’s website at www.ci.stanwood.wa.us or contact public works assistant Lisa Noonchester at 360-629-9781 or email@example.com.