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East Village Skate Park to Reopen

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

EAST VILLAGE — A popular skateboard park that recently shuttered due to illegal activities will reopen Friday after administrators from the school adjacent to the space met to discuss ongoing problems at the bustling skate spot.

Open Road Park, which sits next to East Side Community High School on 11th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A, was locked last week with a sign saying that the Department of Education-owned space had closed until further notice.

The school explained that an increase in instances of smoking and alcohol use, littering, fighting and vandalism forced the temporary closure of the park.

However, skateboarding will resume on July 1 after school officials and park advocates convened with skaters Wednesday to explain the reasons for the closure and what they can do to ensure it doesn't shutter again.

"The treating of the park has been horrible," said Mark Federman, the school's longtime principal, noting that problems of marijuana use and dealing, destruction of property and even sexual activity have occurred at the public space.

"It's crossed the line where it just doesn't feel safe and comfortable anymore," he added.

Since Federman said only a small percentage of park-goers are responsible for the bad behavior, he urged skateboarders to take more responsibility for the area to avoid future complications.

"We don't ever want to have to close it again," he said, noting that skaters upset by the closure should understand that the school is trying to encourage the sport.

Regardless, some neighbors said the racket produced by skaters at Open Road bothers residents on adjacent East 12th and 11th streets.

"The noise is like a pistol range," said Rob Ingrum, who lives directly across from the park on East 11th Street, calling the site an "inappropriate" place for a skate park.

Others, though, said they appreciate the park for what it brings to the community.

"I think it's been fabulous," said Diana Timmons, who's lived on East 12th Street across from the park since 1983. "I feel like it's a safe place."

East Side Community High school has worked closely with the founders of Open Road, a nonprofit that spearheaded the move to bring a skate park to the location, to foster skateboarding and even incorporate it into the physical-education curriculum at school.

Advocates reminded the skateboarders at the meeting that they should take a more proactive role in discouraging negative activities at the space to prevent future problems.

"It's up to you guys. This is your responsibility," said Billy Rohan, who helps oversee the park and teaches skateboarding at the school.

"If you disrespect it," he added, "it's not going to be here."