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Northwest Skate Collective advocates for DIY skatepark renovation

The future of skateboarding in Bellingham could see improvement with support from community leaders

Bellingham resident Josh Knapp performs a crooked grind on April 17, 2024, at the DIY Skatepark under the Roeder Avenue bridge in Bellingham, Wash. Knapp has been skating here since the park began around 2019, and has built some of the more sturdy installations at the park, often using reclaimed pieces of metal. Knapp is hesitant to build more installations because he’s worried the city might come by and tear it all up one day, he said. // Photo by Nathan Barber

On Wednesday, April 17, at Unknown Board Shop, skateboard community members Gil Lund, Zac Garza, James Klinedinst, Pedro Jimenez and others came together to improve skateboarding around the Pacific Northwest with the new Northwest Skate Collective. Their first priority is to develop the DIY Skatepark next to the Waterfront Bike Track into a real, modern skatepark, and to improve skate spots that already exist around Bellingham. 

The idea for the new park design, Lund said, is to have four different sections to the park inspired by the original cities in the Bellingham area: Fairhaven, Sehome, Bellingham and Whatcom. 

The collective's goal is to advocate for skate shops and skateparks around the PNW, Lund said in an email interview. 

Lund has been skating for over 30 years and is very familiar with the history of skateboarding in Washington. 

Lund, married to Bellingham Mayor Kim Lund, is an engineer and has plenty of experience building ramps. In the late 1980s, he and his friends built what came to be known as The Nature Ramp in Renton, Washington. 

Nature Ramp.jpg

The Nature Ramp - Renton, Washington, late 1980s. “The middle guy on the deck is an 18-year-old Mark Hubbard, who founded Grindline Skateparks and is the father of modern skatepark building,” Gil Lund said. // Photo courtesy of Gil Lund

Local partners of NWSC include Kulshan Brewery and Trackside Beer Garden owner, Dave Vitt; Spencer Baldwin of Shire Built; Eric Brown of Whatcom Mountain Bike Association; Education Programs and Activities Coordinator at Bellingham Parks and Recreation, Rosa Caldwell; Cressy Rice of Glacier Skate Association; Founder of The Coal Pad, Jeremy Miller; and Public Affairs Administrator at the Port of Bellingham, Mike Hogan. 

Hogan said that although the Port of Bellingham gave the plot of land to the City of Bellingham back in 2017, the Port loves the skatepark and is all for turning it into something better. 

Zac Garza, owner of Unknown Board Shop, said he’s been skating since 1985, running the shop for 18 years, and has seen a few cycles of the industry. 

“People come and go, but most people come back to skating and it becomes a part of your life,” Garza said. “That’s why it’s important because it’s not just a kid thing. It’s all ages … our heroes are still doing it.”

James Klinedinst, Senior Project Manager of Grindline Skateparks, said he’s excited for where the plot of land is heading because he thinks back to when they were kids and the area was just chemical-filled pulp mills. 

“All these old guys like Jeff Grosso and all these people that are our age have given back. I feel that it’s now our turn to pass the torch,” Lund said. “You get to the point where it’s not all about what you are. It’s about what you’ll leave behind.” 

The kickoff event for NWSC will be held sometime around Go Skateboarding Day, Friday, June 21. More details regarding the event will be released as plans become more concrete. 

To stay up to date follow nwskatecollective on Instagram.

Nathan Barber

Nathan Barber is in his third year at Western and will be majoring in Visual Journalism. He’s an avid kitty cat enthusiast. You can usually find him either on Mount Baker during the weekends, or at the skate park in downtown Bellingham during the week. Reach him at

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