A backhoe tore down the ramps and rails of Spokane’s Under the Freeway skate park Monday morning, marking the end of the popular-yet-troubled skating destination near Lewis and Clark High School.
The demolition follows mounting concerns about safety at the decades-old park under Interstate 90 near South Browne Street, where vandalism and drug use prompted many visits from police. Maintenance also was an issue as the park sits on land owned by the state Department of Transportation.
The city’s Park Board soon will decide on a location for a replacement skate park. The board is working with Grindline Skateparks, a Seattle-based company, which has recommended several locations at Riverfront, Cannon and Liberty parks. The cost of the project is estimated at $700,000; the city already has allocated $288,000 from a parks bond.
Zakk Holder, 26, remembers visiting “UTF” as a child to watch his Uncle Scott skate. Holder doesn’t skate but has painted graffiti there since 2008. Though it’s technically illegal, police rarely bothered graffiti artists if they were inside the park, he said.
“It’s the only place we can paint without getting arrested,” he said.
Although the city would occasionally paint over all their graffiti, Holder didn’t mind because “it was a fresh start” for painters. He and some friends went to the park Monday to scrape layers of paint off the walls and skate structures for souvenirs.
“I’m going to make medallions out of this,” said Holder’s friend, 20-year-old Desmond Hoy. “I know everyone will want one.”
City spokeswoman Monique Cotton said skaters and visitors are encouraged to post pictures from UTF on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #UTFtribute.
“We recognize that this has been a significant gathering place for many people over the years,” Cotton said. “We’d like to honor that. We’re going to make a video with those photos and make a montage, a tribute.”