Red Hook residents cheered a plan to turn the old blacktop ball field inside a green space near the Battery Tunnel into a skate park where local kids can safely shred at meeting with city officials, according to an attendee who called the paved pitch “old-fashioned.”
“I think that the neighborhood would be super lucky to have something like a skate park,” said Red Hooker Trace Crutchfield. “The playground always seemed like kind of a dead end.”
The group of residents, pols, and other leaders gathered inside Harold Ickes Playground on Hamilton Avenue near Van Brunt Street on Nov. 3 to discuss the transformation, which kicked-off with the installation of a temporary “pump track” — a path that simulates a BMX trail — that was set up for the occasion. Neighbors offered further suggestions for the in-development shredders’ sanctuary, which included several standard skate-park accoutrements, according to another local.
“They wanted a bowl — they called it a pool, but I think it’s usually called a bowl — and a pyramid with a platform,” said Amy Jost, who brought her husband, 3-year-old daughter, and 1-year-old son to the session. “And a lot of people wanted to see different things for grinding and what have you.”
Teenage members of the Red Hook Initiative community center began working with city officials in 2015 on plans to convert the painted field into an oasis for skaters, and the project was greenlit after Borough President Adams pledged his support and $1 million to fund the makeover as part of a $7.7-million investment in borough parks that he announced in September.
Two councilmen each matched the beep’s million-dollar contribution, allocating $3 million in total to the project, which one pol said would never have happened were it not for the kids’ persistence.
“Harold Ickes Park will get a skate park because of Red Hook youth leadership,” said Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook), who pledged funds along with Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope). “This success is an example of what happens when a community gets informed, organizes, and presents a clear vision for elected leaders to fulfill.”
Department of Parks and Recreation officials will finalize the design for the park over the next year or so, and then present their plans to the local community board for review, according to Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher, who said the entire project will take about two to three years to complete.
The skate-park site sits directly above Battery Tunnel, which constricts design options, and Maher said that any bowl, for instance, will have to be constructed above ground rather than in-ground.
“We’re going to be building up, rather than digging down,” he said.
Jost, the local, also pointed out that anything built should still allow residents who cut through the park on their way to work to continue to do so.
“It’s a big commuter pass through,” she said.
And there will still be room for some old-school fun, according to Jost, who said the park’s existing handball court will not be affected by the incoming skating facilities.
“Kids still need a place to be able to buy a dollar ball and play,” she said.