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Community Celebrates Official Opening of Red Hook Skatepark

State-of-the-art skate and BMX features replace an asphalt lot at Harold Ickes Playground

Skaters, elected officials and community members gathered in Red Hook last Monday to celebrate the official opening of a skate and BMX park at Harold Ickes Playground

The $4.3 million project was designed with input from skating and BMX groups in the area. The skate park was retrofitted from a former asphalt softball field with state-of-the-art concrete skate features, along with an area for parkour, a boulder for rock climbing, water fountains, and the first bike repair and air pump stations in a Brooklyn park, according to the Parks Department. 

“This new public resource gives New York City's diverse skating and biking community a beautiful place to come together for some safe fun,” said Sue Donoghue, commissioner of NYC Parks. “I'm grateful to our partners across government and in the private sector for their support as we continue to make Red Hook and our entire city more safe, healthy and livable.”

“This project is a testament to the power of well-designed, community-oriented spaces to bring people together, to improve public safety and public health, and to make our city livable for all New Yorkers,” she added.

City Comptroller Brad Lander, who was also present at the event, praised the “can-do spirit” of the Parks Department and the community. “I’m excited about this especially because it really is making something out of conditions that you wouldn’t expect would generate beautiful community life,” he said.

The playground sits above the Brooklyn entrance to the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, and Lander noted that it was originally created out of necessity to house an adjacent, underused venting tower. 

The new park has been unofficially open since February, after construction finished earlier than expected, and has already been embraced by the community. 

There were about ten skaters present at the park throughout the press conference, including Koa Sasser, one of two local kids who skated through a banner to officially open the park, as organizers eschewed a traditional ribbon cutting.

“I hope I’ll get to spend a lot of time here,” he said. “Everybody is really nice when they’re here, I’m very excited to be a part of the community.”

The best part of skating, he said, is “to catch as much air as possible,” and encouraged those nervous about skating for the first time to give it a shot. “Skateboarding is just so much fun,” he said.

“I just love that it’s here, and I want to take care of it,” said Gabriel Cruz, a local resident who has been volunteering his time to keep the park clean “since the gates opened.” For several weeks when it first opened, Cruz said, he would bike over to the park with brooms to sweep away leaves and debris. He comes multiple times a week and has gotten to know some of the other park regulars. 

In his speech, Lander noted that young people would “learn a lot of lessons” at the park, in a nod to a local, Hart Hopson who was present at the event but not skating after suffering the park’s inaugural broken wrist.

But Hopson was undeterred by his injury: “In the words of Michael Scott [from the NBC show The Office], ‘I’ll be back,”” he promised.