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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.
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A Skate Park Closes, A Dispute Ensues

Open Road Park closedChelsia Rose Marcius

East Side Community High School will hold a public meeting at 4 p.m. tomorrow to discuss increased supervision at Open Road skate park on Twelfth Street between First Avenue and Avenue A — the only official East Village public park where ramps, benches and ledges welcomed daily wear and tear before it was shut down by the Department of Education last week. The reasons cited for closure were drinking, smoking, fighting, littering and vandalism.

It came as a blow to skateboarders like 14-year-old Val Perre, who makes daily trips to the park from his home at 24th Street and Lexington Avenue, and sold soda, chips and other confections at the Open Road canteen last summer.

“I don’t think everyone should’ve gotten a punishment, and I doubt there will be more smoking,” Mr. Perre said.

Open Road founder and executive director Paula Hewitt Amram said she’s already recruiting volunteers and revamping fundraising efforts to increase park security during afterschool hours.

Still, she expects there to be some pushback tomorrow from residents on 11th and 12th Streets, who have made several efforts since 2009 to get Open Road — and it’s noise — off their block.
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