Op-ed | Setting the record straight on the Mount Prospect Park skate park

A sign on Eastern Parkway along the fence around Mount Prospect Park, where a new skate park is in the works.
Wikimedia Commons/Opencooper

As a Prospect Heights dad and advocate for green space, I was disappointed that a recent op-ed submitted to Brooklyn Paper omits and distorts key facts about the skateboard arena proposed for Mount Prospect Park.

his project would needlessly eliminate a tremendous amount of green space when there are numerous already-paved locations in our neighborhood that would benefit from a quality skateboard facility. And despite the implications of the author, the proponents of this plan – Mayor Eric Adams, City Council Member Crystal Hudson, and Tony Hawk’s “Skatepark Project” – seem to be going out of their way to avoid public scrutiny and input on the site selection for this regional, mostly concrete arena.

First, let’s talk about the size. This will not be a “small section of Mount Prospect Park.” Mount Prospect Park is a small neighborhood park, not to be confused with the much larger Prospect Park. In the middle of the park is a 96,000 square-foot green space where community members play soccer and baseball, have picnics and parties, and let their dogs off-leash during off-leash hours. Proponents envision putting this facility in the southeast corner of the park where at least part of their 40,000-square-foot skateboard arena will spill into this center area. If even half of this proposed project is put there, it will consume more than a fifth of the green space there, in addition to whatever grass is removed on the southern hillside, radically changing its character and available uses. 

Mayor Eric Adams bragged in his announcement that Mount Prospect Park would be transformed into one of the largest skateboard arenas on the East Coast and could host major events. Most of the square footage is cement or “hardscape” about the size of a middle floor of the Empire State Building. By its own guidelines, the Skatepark Project classifies this as a “regional” facility. Since the Skatepark Project recently hired PR firm Berlin Rosen to address immediate and growing opposition to the project, proponents have pivoted to talking about how “small” this huge skateboard arena will be. We take the Mayor at his word that this is meant to be a regional attraction that we are being told we must pay for with our limited green space.

Even now, despite growing vocal opposition, the Parks Department and Council Member Hudson have made it clear they are not interested in whether this project has any local support. If they did, they would hold real engagement meetings to talk about the community’s vision for the park – without private groups, lobbyists and PR firms in the room – instead of trying to ram this plan through by announcing the site was a done deal, and saying all the community is allowed to discuss are  some design points.

Let’s be clear: Berkower, the author of the original opinion piece, is correct about his assertion that our skateboarders deserve world-class skateboard facilities. I could not agree more. But just because it is “frustrating to see the access to beautiful outdoor facilities for kids involved in sports like baseball” when skateboarders don’t yet have them doesn’t mean it’s OK to take away such spaces from the kids playing baseball in Mount Prospect Park.

Brooklyn already has the least green space per capita of any of the five boroughs. Instead of paving the park, the city should be looking for areas in our neighborhood that are already paved and could benefit from the improvement that a high-quality skateboard facility could bring. People participating with Friends of Mount Prospect Park have suggested multiple paved spaces very close by. We could be adding green space to our neighborhood instead of taking tens of thousands of square feet away.

The Friends of Mount Prospect Park invites community members who care as much about our green space as we do to join our efforts to protect the park here. And we continue to invite the Mayor Adams, the Skatepark Project, the Parks Department, and Council Member Hudson to have a real conversation about the best place in our neighborhood to put a skateboard facility that doesn’t gut a beloved green space in the process.

Ben Lowe is a dad, Prospect Heights resident, and co-chair of Friends of Mount Prospect Park