Police Crack Down on Skateboarders in Turtle Bay Parks

By Mary Johnson on May 16, 2012 7:22am 

A park on East 47th Street between Second and Third avenues is a particular favorite among skateboarders, for its stairs and rails.
A park on East 47th Street between Second and Third avenues is a particular favorite among skateboarders, for its stairs and rails.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

TURTLE BAY — Police have launched a campaign to bar skateboarders from parks in Midtown East and Turtle Bay after residents complained of out-of-control youths taking over the spaces, police said.

Residents filed a police report after several skateboarders allegedly grabbed rocks from a park on East 47th Street between Second and Third avenues last month and hurled them into the backyard of a neighboring building, according to Det. Frank Bogucki, Community Affairs Officer of the 17th Precinct.

No damage was done in the incident, but Bogucki said the precinct could consider setting up some kind of surveillance to track skateboarders in the area.

The incident is one of many that have prompted locals to call for a crackdown on skateboarders — including a separate incident in which skaters allegedly destroyed a fence near the United Nations, and threatened those who tried to stop them, residents say.

Sherrill Kazan, president of the Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza organization, which oversees the block-long public park across from the United Nations, said she has been surrounded by skateboarders and threatened with violence when she tries to shoo them away. 

Kazan said skateboarders destroyed the top portion of a fence surrounding a construction site next to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza when they used the fence to perform various stunts.

The fence surrounds what will become a residential building. But right now, the site is still a deep, dangerous hole in the ground, and the skateboarders could have easily fallen in, Kazan said.

“This is death waiting to happen,” she added.

Assembly Member Dan Quart said his office was alerted to the problem after the incident at the East 47th Street park.

The manager of the building adjacent to that park has put a security guard in charge of patrolling the area outside the building, Quart explained. So far, he hasn't heard of any subsequent incidents, but Quart said he will continue to monitor the situation along with the 17th Precinct.

“It’s an important issue,” Quart said. “We want to keep open space and park space as much as possible for the community, but still balance the residents need to be free from noise and people throwing rocks.”

Kathy Thompson, a resident in the area and founder of the East Side Community Alliance, said she has seen roving bands of skateboarders who taunt residents.

“It’s a quality of life issue," said Thompson, who added that she worries the problems could escalate.

In addition to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, skaters populate several smaller, privately owned public spaces that dot Turtle Bay and Midtown East, she said.

Skateboarders are drawn to the parks’ steps and handrails and stone ledges — all coveted platforms for perfecting tricks.

A skateboarding website called Quartersnacks.com, which promotes “New York skateboarding and degeneracy,” lists skateboarding destinations throughout Manhattan and ranks the likelihood of getting busted at each spot.

The park on East 47th Street is listed as a prime skateboarding location for its size and its handrails but also as a spot known for frequently and rapidly kicking skateboarders to the curb.

“Normally, you will get kicked out of here pretty quick, but it never hurts to take your chances,” the website reads.

“There will occasionally be a fence blocking the plaza off, but you can easily hop it and skate the spot until security comes. More often than not, it helps to come at night.”

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