Harsh! No Skateboarding on Sundays at Open Road Park?

photo(249)Melvin FelixOutside of BRC Senior Services Center last night.

Skate or die! But only between the hours of noon and 8 p.m.

A Community Board 3 committee has recommended new hours of access that will limit the amount of time skateboarders can ride the ramps at Open Road Park. The public park, jointly operated by the neighboring East Side Community High School and the parks department, was closed last summer and then again over the winter due to concerns about drug use and noise.

At a meeting of the Parks, Recreation, Cultural Affairs, Landmarks, & Waterfront committee last night, those issues resurfaced. “Neighbors had concerns with people climbing the fence late at night and using it to skateboard and making a lot of noise,” said Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3.

Residents of the block on 12th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A said they didn’t mind skateboarding so long as it was regulated. Genevieve, a neighbor of the park who did not want to give her last name, complained that skaters show up as early as 7:30 a.m. and don’t leave until late at night. “The noise it creates rebounds like an echo chamber,” she said. “When you have 50 kids skateboarding back and forth, it’s just an incredible noise.”

Monique Flores, director of University Settlement’s Beacon program at East Side Community High, worried that the 250 children she regularly takes to the park were being exposed to foul language and drug use. “I’m responsible for anything that happens to those kids,” she said. “Scary things have happened there. There has to be a solution and there has to be someone who monitors.”

The schedule proposed last night would allow skateboarding on weekdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m., but not on Sundays.

Open RoadChelsia Rose Marcius Open Road Park

While only a few neighbors spoke out, about a dozen skaters were present at the meeting, some holding signs reading “Skateboarding Is American.” One local resident, Jared Longoria, of 425 East 12th Street, said he saw the value of skateboarding at the park, which is offered as a school elective. “It makes sense to keep 12th and A open because it brings people together of all ages,” he said.

Bill Rohan said the park is essential for at-risk teens who need ways to avoid incarceration. “It’s been a place for teenagers to go for the past four years,” he said. “There’s not that many teenager parks.”

But Ms. Stetzer stressed that Open Road Park isn’t just for ollies and aerials, and the hours agreed upon are for shared usage. “It is not a skateboarding park,” she said. “It is also for families, it is also for small children.”

During a conversation with The Local today, Ms. Stetzer said the proposed summer schedule would allow the public to continue to use the park during school hours while limiting disruptive activity at that time. The committee’s proposal will now go to the full board for consideration and would eventually have to be approved by the parks department.

Ms. Stetzer said she hoped the parks department, which had asked for the community’s input, would post signs making the proposed hours easy to enforce; in the meantime, she hoped skateboarders would abide by them. “It’s kind of a strange situation because there’s really no way to monitor it,” she said. “If the skateboarders self-monitor, it will work out.”

This isn’t the end of the tug of war over the park: in September, the community will meet again to discuss hours of operation for the school year.