Drug Use Cited in Skate Park’s Closure

Meeting about closure of Open Road Skate Park, June 29 Chelsia Rose Marcius School officials and Open Road staff members gather to meet with skateboarders and area residents about the closed East Village skating space on 12th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A.

At today’s public meeting to discuss the recent closure of Open Road Park on 12th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A, Principal Mark Federman of East Side Community High School said recent reports of the sale and use of marijuana on the property were the primary reason that school officials decided to close the neighborhood skating space.

“There have been lots of reports of the smoking of cigarettes and the smoking and dealing of marijuana,” he said. “I’m not keeping stats but I have enough reports to be concerned.”

In the last few days, the school and Open Road have started raising money to hire more security to supervise the park during weekends and after school hours. Mr. Federman said that he understands “it’s a huge burden to the kids who come and skate,” and hopes to reopen the park — with restricted hours — later this week.

Skateboarder in Tompkins Square ParkChelsia Rose Marcius Skaters have moved to Tompkins Square Park.

Still, some residents of 11th and 12th Streets who attended the meeting say that shorter hours won’t reduce the din created by skateboard wheels on wooden ramps, and likened the noise to that of a construction zone or pistol range.

“I work from home and its like being next to a building site,” said Hugh Sinclair, 53, who lives on 11th Street across from the park. “I certainly don’t want to stand in the way of kids skating. But kids are climbing over the fences to skate all the time” — when the park is closed — “and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Skateboarders shared their views during the meeting, too, and agreed to respect the venue, which is also used for other sports and outdoor activities. Billy Rohan, an official with Open Road — a nonprofit, advocacy group for skaters — has volunteered to supervise the area this summer, warning skaters that, “this is not a free-for-all,” and that he will contact the authorities regarding any drug use on the premises.

Mr. Federman said the school will hold another meeting at Open Road next month to decide whether to increase the park’s hours of operation.