A new effort to revitalize the skate park on Moores Lane in Greenport has surfaced.
The Greenport Skate Park Project committee will host its first community meeting Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 5:30 p.m. at the Red Schoolhouse on Front Street.
In late September, reports of graffiti at the property appeared on the “Let’s Talk Village Of Greenport” Facebook page. The post contained images of neglect and damage at the 20,000-square-foot facility, showing it as visibly unfit for public use.
Rena Wilhelm of Greenport, owner of The Weathered Barn, said days later that she was motivated to form a group to revitalize the skate park with help from resident Lucas Natali.
“A lot of times, we hear this rhetoric of ‘all the improvements go toward the Business District, they don’t go toward the people who live here year-round,’ ” Ms. Wilhelm said, “and I just thought this was the perfect opportunity to bridge that gap a little bit.”
In October, Ms. Wilhelm reached out to avid skateboarder Robin Mueller of Green Hill Kitchen and lawyer Kelly O’Shea, a Business Improvement District member, to work on the committee.
Knowing of her friend’s writing skills, Ms. Wilhelm requested that Ms. O’Shea act as a grant writer for the local group. Committee members hope to receive funding through grants from recreational organizations, like the Tony Hawk Foundation, and from local legislators.
“When she put it out there as something we could do, I jumped on it,” Ms. O’Shea said. “I was happy to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll pick up the pen and do the writing piece.’ ”
Ms. O’Shea said this is an opportunity to improve the village.
“I have a vision in my own head of what it will be,” she said, “and my hope is that it becomes a recreational magnet for kids and adults and families.”
Since the park is owned by Greenport, Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said, any renovations the committee wants completed must go through the village.
At their Oct. 17 work session, Village Board members supported the effort to rebuild the skate park and granted the group permission to pursue the project.
“They can move forward with it. The board recognizes that they have permission to go and do something; they just have to run it by us first,” Mr. Hubbard said.
Village administrator Paul Pallas said the village recently repaired a small portion of the half-pipe at the skate park and completed a significant amount of work repainting equipment. Two of the concrete ramps there still need to be repaired, he said.
Trustee Peter Clarke, who serves as village liaison to the new committee, said he intended to mention the group at the meeting and was “pleasantly surprised” when the mayor referenced it on his own.
“With the revitalization that’s going on in that area with the railroad, I think it’s a great opportunity and the timing is good,” Mr. Clarke said.
The committee operates through a Facebook page and Instagram account representing the park.
Though she’s not a skater, Ms. Wilhelm said she’s invested in the project because the park continues to bring a variety of people into the village.
“This is so much more than just skating,” she said. “The only difference in the people who skate is their skill level — it’s all backgrounds, all ages, all genders — it’s almost like the culture itself encourages people to try new things.”
The November meeting will collect information from skaters, the parents of young skaters and community members who want to offer their opinions and ideas, Ms. Wilhelm said.
“A lot of people want to be a part of it, but the first thing we have to do is assess — not so much that the park needs improvements, but does part of it needs to be redesigned?” she said. “We want to ask if we have the right kind of fixtures to go with what the kids are actually doing.”
Some committee members are requesting revival of the skate park festival fundraiser, a summer event started back in 2009 by Michelle and Michael Bendik to help rehab the park. The last festival was held in 2014 after it was hosted by the village, according to previous reports from The Suffolk Times.
This isn’t the first time a community group has worked to revive Greenport’s skate park. In August 2013, Village Board members called for the formation of a committee to help maintain the facility after several reports of anti-Semitic graffiti, littering and damage there.
Caption: Christopher Thomas of Bay Shore, then 8 years old, skates at the park in 2014. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)