Central KItsap School District has approved a lease with Sk8town Stars, a nonprofit dedicated to keep skating alive in Kitsap County

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CENTRAL KITSAP — Central Kitsap School District has agreed to lease the gym at the Jenne-Wright Administration Center to the Sk8town Stars, a nonprofit hoping to keep roller skating alive in Kitsap County.

Closure of Skateland in East Bremerton this summer left Kitsap County without a roller rink. Port Orchard's Sk8Town closed in 2015.

Into the void stepped roller skating aficionados with three goals, according to Sk8town Stars' spokesman Shawn Cupples: save skating assets where possible, keep people skating in the short term and find a long-term home for roller skating groups.

As Skateland was closing, the group purchased all the roller skates, racks and other inventory, including a cotton candy machine. In July, they acquired at auction floorboards from the old Central Kitsap High School gym before the school is demolished.

Doug Newell,Central Kitsap School District's executive director of business and operations, and Shawn Cupples of the nonprofit Sk8town Stars celebrate an agreement approved Nov. 13, 2019, for the group to lease the Jenne-Wright gym for skating groups and fundraisers. (Photo: Central Kitsap School District)

Doug Newell, Central Kitsap's executive director of business and operations, asked Cupples what his group planned to do with the floorboards. When Newell learned the group was looking for a place for kids to skate, he was open to working out a lease on unused school property.

"We're fortunate to have 22 sites that we support, and we look for ways for the community to be able to take advantage of what they own," Newell said. "We routinely entertain requests from the community to use facilities. We try hard to accommodate those requests."

Sk8town Stars provides support to groups that formerly operated under Skateland's business umbrella, including the Bremerton Hurricanes roller hockey club, the Bremerton Speed Team and Sk8town Artistic Skate Team. The nonprofit also has an affiliation with the Northwest Derby Company roller derby team.

Groups that formerly used Skateland serve youth and others new to the sport but also have members who compete on the national level.

"There isn't a lot of stuff for kids to do especially in the rainy months," Cupples said. "Skateland had very good numbers and successful programs. To see all that go away would be a loss."

Cupples said his group jumped at the chance to use the Jenne-Wright gym, and he is excited that those programs will have at least a temporary place to continue skating.

At roughly 3,000 square feet, the gym is suitable for use by most roller skating groups. It isn't quite big enough for a roller derby match but big enough for practice.

Two other sites were considered: the gym at Seabeck Elementary, which will be preserved for community use after demolition of the vacated school, and an auxiliary gym at the 900 Building on the Central Kitsap High School campus. Neither of those gyms was immediately available, however, and the Sk8town Stars were eager to get rolling.

The Jenne-Wright property is a former elementary school along Silverdale Way, the main portion of which has long been used for administrative offices. The gym has been used mainly for storage, Newell said.

The lease approved Wednesday by the Central Kitsap school board allows Sk8town Stars to rent the gym, bathrooms and the parking lot for an initial "trial period" of three and 1/2 months. Rent is $2,000 a month. When the lease is up Feb. 28, 2020, the district and the group have the option to renew for up to a year.

Newell said the arrangement could go longer, but the future of the Jenne-Wright building is uncertain given the administrative offices will move in the spring of 2021 to the 900 building, slated for renovation.

The group is responsible for any upgrades required to make the gym suitable for skating. Installing the CKHS gym floorboards would be a lengthy and complex process, Cupples said. Instead, the group will lay down a plastic tile sports court they obtained from a facility closing in Portland, Oregon, as a temporary surface.

The lease is for club use only, not a commercial rink. The agreement does provide for club fundraisers and charity events hosted by PTAs and other nonprofit groups.

Adjustable Roller Skate

Cupples said his group is looking into the possibility of making the gym available to homeschool groups during the school day.

The Sk8tetown Stars is made up of volunteers passionate about roller skating, Cupples said. The group has raised more than $4,000 so far from the community to maintain roller skating programs in Kitsap County. 

sk8town.org, a non-profit initiative to save skating in Kitsap County, plans to use the old CKHS gym floor as a rink in the future. Isabella Breda, Kitsap Sun

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