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Skatepark opens at long last

Paul Billings attempted to rail slide down 11 stairs at the new Bremerton skate park. He landed it on his second attempt. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Paul Billings attempted to rail slide down 11 stairs at the new Bremerton skate park. He landed it on his second attempt.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

A cold November afternoon did not deter more than 100 skateboarding and roller blading enthusiasts from attending the grand opening Wednesday of the Bremerton Skatepark located next to the Glenn Jarstad Aquatic Center in Manette.

The park broke ground in July on a bright and sunny day. Though it was gray and not too many degrees above freezing, the skaters came out in force to hit the asphalt and grind, rail slide and jump their way across the new facility even before dignitaries could get up and say their piece.

The new park emphasizes street elements, as was envisioned by local skaters who helped to develop the facility, making it rather unique for the area.

Most of the Bremerton teens who saw the project through to its completion are members of Bremerton Skateboarders and Supporters United, a group which was integral to making the plans come to fruition.

One skater, J.R. Quitugua, took the opportunity to take the podium at the ceremony and praise all who made the roughly 10,000-square foot facility possible.

Quitugua said of his own role in making the park happen that he just helped everyone involved stay excited about it over the years.

“It all started playing football, I guess. I played quarterback and that’s about gearing everybody up, always seeing the positive,” Quitugua said. “I’ve just been keeping everybody’s spirits up, rallying all the people to support this.”

City Council president Daren Nygren assured park supporters that even if it took a while to make the park a reality, it was a project that always had the council’s backing.

“When the group of teenagers came to the council with the idea, we supported it from day one,” Nygren said.

Nygren even hopped on a board and relived a sport he took pleasure in himself as a teenager.

“I was showing these guys my battle scars ... a compound fracture of my wrist when I used to skate,” he said. “These kids just keep pushing the limits. The things they are doing are pretty extreme. They’ll be even more extreme given a couple months out here after they’re used to the park.”

“We just think it turned out fantastic,” said Larry Paulson of the Bremerton Central Lions Club. “We hope the kids really get a lot of enjoyment out of it.”

Steffin Reeves, 15, certainly planned to enjoy the facility.

“It’s a lot better than going to Silverdale, having this built,” Reeves said. “That’s pretty far away and this is right down the street from my house. It’s a pain going to parking lots and stuff because it’s the only place you can skate in Bremerton but the police will take away your board and you get in trouble.”

Reeves said it’s nice not to worry about such things anymore at long last.

“I remember back in eight grade we had meetings at Mountain View (Middle School), then finally the groundbreaking this summer,” he said. “Then finally, we can get out here and skate in this park. It’s exciting. I really love it.”

The funding for the park came from a variety of sources including the Bremerton Community Development Block Grant, Lions Charitable Foundation, Kitsap County and the Washington State IAC/Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) Grant.

It was that state grant, said Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman, that provided the most after the park became WWRP’s top priority among 150 projects it was a part of.

“What I love about this project is having the kids coming in and sitting in on the process,” said Dave Boynton of the Bremerton parks & Recreation Commission. “They worked along with the developers the whole way through.”

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