In keeping with the traditions that made Volunteer Park the apple of Key Peninsula’s eye, volunteers again turned out to build its latest “sports center,” the long awaited Zech & Adi West Memorial Skate Park.
It began June 26 with a pour of concrete on a steel-reinforced platform covering Volunteer Park’s decaying upper tennis court. The rebar and supplies were provided at cost by Addison Supply. The pour, smoothing out, and seasoning were accomplished by Oliver Lystad Construction of Vaughn and his crew members, all of whom contributed their long hours free of charge. BoMac Concrete of Port Orchard provided the concrete at cost. And it was all accomplished over two days of almost incessant drizzle and rain. The expressions of accomplishment, the gratifying glow of giving, the nonhesitating hard work that began at 7 a.m. and was still underway near midnight was a testimonial to what this community is all about.
On July 18, after the concrete had set up and seasoned and after the seventh annual KP Community Fair crowd had trod its surface, tons of pre-cast concrete skate park components, half pipes, platforms, even a “picnic table” from Skate Concepts were anchored on the concrete slab by experts from Sequim’s Northwest Recreation of Washington. On July 19, all units were bonded together permanently and the steel transition entry ramps were welded to their bases. Once again, it was all accomplished in a constant drizzle of rain.
“The list of those who made possible the skate park is long. We couldn’t have done it without the support of the community,” said Chuck West, founder of the Zech & Adi West Memorial Foundation, which spearheaded and paid for the project. “They came through with donations and help all along the way.”
For West, a division chief with the KP fire department who grew up on the Key Peninsula, the park is the realization of a dream — to honor the memory of his son, Zech, an avid skateboarder whose life was cut short by tragedy.
Long ago, the father and son vacationed in Idaho, where Zech enthused over a skate park.
He encouraged his dad to create a similar facility on the Key Peninsula. With appropriate approvals of the then KP Park & Recreation District board, the two of them and others built a wood-framed, steel-sheeted “half pipe” on a scarcely used, in-need-of-repair tennis court at Volunteer Park. While not “state of the art,” the kids swarmed over it like bees in a rose garden. Being somewhat heavier than bees, their flying athletic skills soon reduced the structure to one deemed unsafe for continued use. It was taken down. Zech’s enthusiasm for skating, however, did not abate.
Not long after graduating from Peninsula High School, Zech volunteered for the U.S. Navy, fulfilling a longtime dream of becoming a Navy Seal. During training in the mid-West, he met and fell in love with Adi. Thereafter, while Zech was on assignment to Italy, the couple’s correspondence culminated in their wedding in her home town while he was on leave. Their honeymoon brought them to visit Zech’s family on the Key and to borrow dad’s vehicle for a few nights in the Cascades so that Zech could share the mountains with his new bride. There, three weeks after they were wed, they were lost in a tragic accident.
At a memorial luncheon at the Wests not long thereafter, all those in attendance agreed to do whatever it would take to fulfill Zech’s dream for a permanent skate park to be created on the Key Peninsula. The Zech & Adi West Memorial Foundation was formed, the proposal was successfully presented to the newly formed Key Peninsula Metropolitan Park District and, in cooperation with KPMPD, plans were formulated for a skate park at Volunteer Park. A well-attended fund-raising dinner sponsored by volunteers with mostly contributed supplies and freely offered entertainment and a dance was a big success. Car washes, table waiting, and a plethora of other efforts contributed to the funding effort; Pierce County Councilman Terry Lee contributed significant county funds to support the endeavor.
Just as many community-minded individuals assisted in creating Volunteer Park — which has served as a model for other communities in the state as an example of what volunteers can do for their communities — so did the community rally once again to see the skate park dream come true.