School Shuts Down 12th Street Skate Park, Citing Drug Use

12+A SkateparkChelsia Rose Marcius Skaters hop the fence at the now-closed Open Road park.

Open Road Park — the lot on 12th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A that attracts skaters from across the city — is closed to the community until further notice.

Mark Federman, principal of East Side Community High School, which sits adjacent to the park, cited overall disregard for the space as well as drug use on the premises, including the smoking and selling of marijuana.

“At this point it’s not really a safe space to keep open,” he said. “We decided that we’re just going to keep it closed until we figure out a way to resolve these issues.”

Open RoadChelsia Rose Marcius

The Department of Education shut down the park earlier this summer after reported drug use. During a June 29 meeting, skateboarders, bikers, Open Road staff members, neighbors and Mr. Federman, discussed issues similar to those responsible for the more recent closure, including littering, drug use and noise complaints from area residents.

The park reopened before the school year began, but Mr. Federman said that there were several more instances of drug use. The school put up signs and locked the gates to indicate that the park was closed to students outside of East Side Community High School.

Those postings were ripped down, he said, and users of the park have since clipped the padlocks and climbed over the bars to use the ramps on Open Road.

Over the weekend, Cary Norris, 18, turned a garbage can upside down and propped it next to the gate so that he could clamber over the entrance. The Harlem resident, who had been coming to the park for at least five years, said that he knew the park was closed, but there were not a lot of options for places to skate.

“We rely on the parks; it’s a safe haven for us,” he said. “The streets are way too crazy to be skating in.”

But Mr. Federman said that there were many places in the city to skate, and that, too often, those using the space called it a skate park, which he said was a “misnomer.”

“It’s not a skate park; skating is something we offer,” he said. “It’s a school park; there are more and more skaters in there, but it is very much a school park.”

Mr. Federman said that the park will remain closed until after the winter break. The school will hold public meetings to discuss use of the space for sports like volleyball, basketball and football. Skaters and skateboarders will still have an opportunity to use the lot, however restricted hours will apply and users of the park might need to register through an after-school program.