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City settles suit over illegal skate park on Green Lake’s Duck Island [updated]

Humans aren’t even supposed to walk on that island, so pouring concrete is especially off-limits

Green Lake with Duck Island visible.
Ivan Stanic/Shutterstock

Update, February 9: The City of Seattle has settled with 35th North, with the skate shop paying the city $30,000 to cover damages but maintaining it wasn’t responsible. “35th North settled this matter because it was interested in maintaining a working relationship with the skateboarding community and the City of Seattle,” said 35th North owner Tony Croghan in a statement.

The settlement will fully cover the costs so far, and estimated future costs, of restoring Duck Island. The majority of the restoration work will take place this year.

Update, November 3: While 35th North hasn’t responded to our request for comment, shop owner Tony Croghan told the Seattle Times that they weren’t aware of the park until after it was already completed.

“We were shocked to be named in this suit as we didn’t know the bowl was even built until after it was completed. We certainly didn’t know it had been built on a sensitive bird habitat and would not have submitted the video to Nike’s contest if we had,” he said.

Original story, November 1: Over the summer, according to a city lawsuit, local skate shop 35th North built a skate park—in this case, a small concrete bowl—on Duck Island in Green Lake. The process was part of a skate-park-building contest with Transworld Skateboarding.

One big problem: Humans aren’t supposed to be on Duck Island at all. It was originally built as a nature reserve, and while it lost official status in 1983, the Seattle Audubon Society notes that it’s still an important habitat for many local birds.

Technically, the island is off-limits to people. And ducks, as it turns out, aren’t as big of fans of sweet skate bowls.

The Seattle city attorney’s office announced today that they’d filed suit against the skate shop and 20 people who participated in construction. And the evidence is pretty damning: Because it was built as part of a sponsored contest, the whole building process was documented.

There’s even video, preserved for prosterity by the Seattle Times.

The contest prize was $1,000, and while this project was initially named a winner, they were disqualified when contest organizers found out the skate park was unauthorized. It’s only a fraction of the damages sought by the city, anyway; according to the city’s press release, they’re seeking something in the “low six figures.”

Duck Island will need restoration work, including stormwater and erosion control, litter removal, and replanting the area, according to the city attorney’s office.

It’s not uncommon for people to go to Duck Island, despite it being technically not-okay. But that usually amounts to late-night drinking. The most permanent installation before this was the occasional rope swing.

Green Lake Park

7201 East Green Lake Drive North, , WA 98115 Visit Website