City's Only Indoor Skate Park to Open in Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi on July 5, 2012 6:45am 

The Stapleton skate park will be the first indoor skate park, and the only in New York City, when it opens this month.
The Stapleton skate park will be the first indoor skate park, and the only in New York City, when it opens this month.
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DNAInfo/Nicholas Rizzi

STATEN ISLAND — New York's only indoor skate park will open its doors to those who ride, bounce, push or slide this month.

5050 Skatepark will offer a flat-topped haven to skateboarders, bike riders, rollerbladers and scooter riders starting July 7, and will host a full grand opening at the Stapleton course at a later date.

The park, on Front Street, will be New York City's only indoor skate park, as well as Staten Island's first, said co-owner Ed Pollio, 30, of Prince's Bay.

The park, located in a former furniture store at 354 Front St., will have 35,000 square feet of rails and ramps, and even an obstacle course modeled after the famed Brooklyn Banks, a popular Manhattan skating area that was closed in 2010 by the city for use as a staging area for the Brooklyn Bridge reconstruction.

Pollio, who has been riding bikes and building ramps for 15 years, said the day he signed a lease, he gathered a bunch of skaters and bike riders he knew to help him design the park.

"I invited all the skateboarders and all the bike riders here, and we sat at a big table and they designed it," Pollio said. "They said what fixtures they wanted and where. It was designed by the users."

Riders at the park will be required to wear a helmet at all times, with shoulder and knee pads recommended but optional. Safety gear will be available for rental, he said.

The park will have obstacles for every level of rider, from the beginner to the advanced, Pollio said.

"You have to build stuff that these kids are going to be enticed to ride, and want to challenge themselves so they don't get bored with the sport easy," he said. "We tried to make it for all different levels of riders."

Pollio was inspired to build the 5050 Skatepark last year with his girlfriend Angelica Popolano, 24, after the city Parks Department tore down the old Benjamin Soto public skatepark the city constructed in 2005, named for his friend, a Staten Island BMX rider and marine who died while serving in Japan in 2001.

Ed Pollio, 30, and his girlfriend Angelica Popolano, 24, with their dog Jasper are the owners of 5050 Skate Park, Stapleton.
Ed Pollio, 30, and his girlfriend Angelica Popolano, 24, with their dog Jasper are the owners of 5050 Skate Park, Stapleton.
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DNAInfo/Nicholas Rizzi

The defunct Midland Park course thrived for a while, but after the city tore down all the ramps due to disrepair, and replaced them with only rails, Pollio said the park's riders disappeared.

"What they put in there is laughable, it's not really a skatepark, it's a joke," said Pollio.

"It's sad. There used to be 75 kids a day there in the summer, and you'll go there and you'll see five or 10 if you're lucky and they're sitting on the bench staring into space."

Trying to find a space, and landlord, that would be good for the 5050 park became the main challenge he faced making his dream a reality.

"A lot of landlords didn't want anything to do with us," Pollio said. "They don't like teenage kids — they think drugs — and that's not the case."

Pollio eventually found the Front Street space and began cleaning it out in October.

"We came in here for three months every weekend, just coming here without a signed lease just to help [the landlord] clean it out," he said.

Finally, Pollio signed the lease in June, and began building the courses and ramps.

As the skatepark makes the final push towards opening, Pollio is running a fundraiser by selling inscribed bricks that will line the entrance into the building.

A brick will run either $55 or $125 each, depending on the size.

The park will be open seven days a week, and use will be broken up into three, 3-hour sessions each day.

A session will cost $12, or $20 for a day pass for all three sessions.

Riders can also schedule bike, skateboard, rollerblade and scooter lessons at $20 per hour, and the park will be available for birthday party rentals.

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