Last Friday afternoon, park officials hosted a skate fair and community input session at Harold Ickes Playground. Skate park designers and manufacturers offered their take on what to include in the new space.
Along with Borough President Eric Adams and Councilman Brad Lander, Councilman Carlos Menchaca allocated funds to build the $3 million skate park.
“We want to not only take the spirit of the vision, but actually accelerate something that’s really popular in the neighborhoods, in the city, and that’s skating,” he said. “People are really excited about it.”
The project was requested by youth from the local organization Red Hook Initiative several years ago, he said. During participatory budgeting, they pitched the idea of a skate park. But upon further review, they found out it would be too big of an undertaking for participatory budgeting.
“We said let’s do it anyway,” Menchaca said. “The youth really drove this process. They went door to door, they got signatures.”
After securing funds from the borough president, the project got the green light. Menchaca said it will be a multi-use park for bikes, skateboards and scooters.
“It’s cool because so many different ages get to use it. It’s exciting because our kids want to use spaces differently,” he said. “What you’re seeing is a concrete slab that’s going to get transformed into something of the future.”
Chikoo Texidor, a youth member of the Red Hook Initiative, said the new park would serve not only as a skate park, but a place where local youth can hang out.
“I’m hoping they can do training lessons here for people that don’t know how to skate,” he said. “I’m not a skater at all, but I would love to learn how to.”
Jonathan Xue, a 16-year-old skater from Sunset Park, said his ideal skate park would resemble ones in the Lower East Side and DUMBO, where the “big skate parks” are in New York City.
He said he wants to see ledges, bowls, ramps and flats rows among the features.
Xue goes to skateparks about five times a week, though there isn’t one in his neighborhood. The closest skatepark to his house is Owl’s Head Park in Bay Ridge.
“I would come here to skate, if me and my friends ever want to go out and skate a park that we designed,” he said.
Brandon Cordero is part of an organization called Indigenous Skateboards, a Bronx-based deck company that supports the building of skateparks. They were among the half-dozen groups tabling at the skate fair.
Cordero said he wants to see more spaces for youth to skate and stay out of trouble.
“It’s important to me because when I started skateboarding, I was 16, and where I live in the Bronx is not the best neighborhood,” he said. “It’s really important that youth nowadays stay out of trouble and try to stay on a good path, keep their head forward and do something productive with their time, rather than being out and doing stuff that’s negative and doesn’t help them in the future.”
Cordero said he thinks there should be as many skateparks throughout the city as basketball courts. In terms of features, he wants to see handrails and quarter pipes. He would also want a section for beginners just getting into the culture to experience it.
“Kids that are interested in skateboarding can meet with other people who do skate and get used to being around skateboarding,” he said. “It’s going to be something that is incorporated into the new culture that’s being brought up in New York City.”