Group Pushing for Skatepark in Southeast Queens

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on March 28, 2014 10:21am 

 London Planetree Park in Woodhaven last year.
London Planetree Park in Woodhaven last year.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — A group of community activists and skateboarders will rally this weekend in support of building a skatepark at Laurelton Playground in Southeast Queens.

Activists say that there is a lot of enthusiasm for the sport in the area, but few outlets for kids to participate, unlike other sections of the borough, such as Planetree Park in Woodhaven.

“Many young people in southeast Queens skateboard,” said Greg Mays, founder of the nonprofit A Better Jamaica and the Parks Committee Chair at Community Board 12. “But they don’t have any place to skate.”

Mays said that as a result local teens skate on sidewalks and in front of the court buildings in Jamaica.

Laurelton Playground, located on Brookville Boulevard between 136th and 137th avenues, would be perfect for skaters, Mays said, because portions of it are covered with asphalt and the area is underutilized.

The playground is located within Community Board 13, which supports the project, said Mays. He also started a petition on Change.org, which by Thursday afternoon has been signed by 123 people.

Local Councilman Donovan Richards said that he has already allocated $250,000 to revamp the playground but he said that he has not yet decided how best to improve the park.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said about the skatepark. “But I’m interested in hearing from my community what do they want to see there.”

Richards said he allocated the money because “the playground is dull … there is a lot of concrete, a lot of cement, but there is not a lot of park benches, not a lot of greenery.”

He also said the portion of the park featuring equipment for children “is outdated and needs an upgrade.”

According to the Parks Department, there are currently five skate parks in Queens, including in Astoria, Forest Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Far Rockaway.

The most recently built skatepark opened at London Planetree Playground in Woodhaven last year. The $1.6 million facility features two-, three- and five-stair sections, grind rails and a series of banks and slopes, according to the Parks Department.

A spokesman for the Parks Department said that the agency also included "skate park elements in many of our park designs." Such features, he said, were recently incorporated at East Elmhurst Playground, which was renovated in 2013, and Howard Von Dohlen Park in Jamaica, which is currently being revamped.

"NYC Parks would support a request for the funding of skate elements at Laurelton Playground," the spokesman said.

The Southeast Queens Skatepark Coalition will hold Skatepark Rally on Saturday, March 29, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Laurelton Playground (Brookville Blvd. bet. 136th and 137th aves.). For more information, go here.

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