07/30/14 2:13pm
07/30/2014 2:13 PM
Christopher Thomas, 8, of Bay Shore skates at Sunday's festival. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Christopher Thomas, 8, of Bay Shore skates at Sunday’s festival. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Sunday’s Greenport Village-sponsored Skate Park Festival was dubbed a success by village board members, who said Monday the event raised nearly $600 toward park maintenance and drew crowds from as far west as Queens.  (more…)

08/15/13 8:00am
08/15/2013 8:00 AM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Frank Locrotondo with his wife, mother, children and grandchildren at a Southold Fire Department fundraiser.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Frank Locrotondo with his wife, mother, children and grandchildren at a Southold Fire Department fundraiser Saturday, one several events over the weekend.

At Wendy’s Deli in Mattituck Monday morning, a pair of local residents was standing around the coffee pots discussing how incredible last weekend was.

They weren’t marveling over the tans they got at the beach, the foie gras they ate at North Fork Table & Inn or the jumbo fluke they caught in the bay. These were two hard-working middle-class individuals who were talking about how great it was to give back to a pair of local firemen.

There are lots of fundraisers on the North Fork each summer. Yet it’s still incredible to see so much support for local charity events.

Between the two firemen’s fundraisers, the Greenport Skate Park Festival and a gala for Eastern Long Island Hospital, more than 1,500 area residents attended benefits over the weekend, donating to people and causes important to them.

There are lots of reasons the North Fork is a great place. The way the people who live here take care of each other is at the top of the list.

Related: Hundreds attend fundraiser for Laurel family

Related: Big turnout to help Southold firefighter

Cleaning up the skate park

We were pleased to see Greenport Village workers at the skate park this past Thursday, painting over the swastika that led to an editorial in last week’s issue of The Suffolk Times.

By Saturday, in time for the Greenport Skate Park Festival, every bit of graffiti was gone and the trash that lined the park had been picked up.

“The skate park was completely cleaned up for the festival,” read one email we received this weekend. “There was no graffiti, repairs had been made to some of the wood and there wasn’t any garbage lying around. It was a striking difference from what it looked like last week.”

We hope village officials will continue to make keeping the skate park clean a priority.

There are too few recreational opportunities for our youth. We need to make sure the opportunities they do have are preserved

08/10/13 5:02pm
08/10/2013 5:02 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Gus Rymer, 16, of Southold performs a trick on his scooter at Saturday’s Greenport Skate Park Festival.

What could be the final Greenport Skate Park Festival kicked off Saturday in Greenport with kids of all ages performing tricks on bikes, scooters and skateboards.

The annual event launched five years ago in an effort to restore the park to its former glory. That’s proved to be a difficult challenge.

The park was in much better condition Saturday compared to a week earlier, when garbage littered the ground and graffiti marks covered the area.

Michelle Bendik, co-organizer of the Greenport Skate Park Festival, told The Suffolk Times last week that this could be the end of the festival. To read more about the park, click here.

08/08/13 6:00am
08/08/2013 6:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Beau Pollock, 20, of Greenport is a regular at the skate park that opened in the Village 15 years ago. But these days volunteers and village officials are wondering just how much the public wants the facility, considering how it has been allowed to fall into disrepair.

When the Greenport Skate Park was built in 1998, it was touted as an innovative creative outlet in a town with few ways for youths to express themselves.

The 20,000-square-foot facility was considered state-of-the-art, boasting a concrete street course and wooden ramps of various sizes. The village’s $200,000 investment seemed to be paying off in 2000, when an article published in Transworld Skateboarding magazine hailed the facility’s design as the standard upon which all skate parks should be modeled.

That’s difficult for some of today’s skaters to believe.

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Greenport officials said this week that village workers clean the skate park on Moore’s Lane weekly.

After 15 years, graffiti now spells out obscene messages and anti-Semitic symbols dot the park. Holes the size of volleyballs have eaten through the ramps and trash litters the ground beneath them.

“It’s dangerous to be there,” said Michelle Bendik, co-organizer of the Greenport Skate Park Festival, which will take place at the park this weekend.

Along with her husband, Michael, Ms. Bendik launched the annual event five years ago in an effort to restore the park to its former glory. But it has proven to be an uphill battle.

“We peaked the second year of the festival,” she said. “It’s not a priority for the village. The community needs to want it and they don’t seem to want it anymore. Because it’s unsupervised and has a reputation as a place where kids go to fool around, there is no respect or ownership.”

Village administrator David Abatelli said the biggest reason the park has fallen into disrepair is that no maintenance plan was in place when the park opened in 1998. The small amount budgeted for its upkeep goes primarily toward the cost of insurance and weekly garbage pickup, he said.

“The kids are lucky it’s still there and that we haven’t taken it down,” Mr. Abatelli said this week. “Most of the people that use it don’t treat it right.”

Mr. Abatelli admits that the festival motivates the village to do a more thorough cleanup of the skate park the day before the event.

“It’s frustrating to send someone there to clean it and a week later it’s trashed again,” he said. “We can’t have an armed guard there all the time.”

The idea for the facility came about in 1995 when a group of young skaters took it upon themselves to erect ramps behind an abandoned restaurant in town, according to the 2000 article in Transworld Skateboarding.

The community deemed the makeshift park an eyesore and it was promptly dismantled. However, the actions of the skaters caused village officials to take note of the need for a public skate park.

Three years later, the park opened to rave reviews and even drew professional skaters like Andy Macdonald, Neal Hendrix and Billy Rohan to the village.

While the skate park remained popular through the 2000s, the need for a maintenance plan was obvious in the later part of the decade. In 2008, the Bendiks, who grew up skating on Long Island, took up the cause to restore the park. Initially, they had big plans.

Ms. Bendik said they set out intending to transform the rundown skate park into a family-friendly community hub. The couple’s three-phase plan was to begin with resurfacing the park, then rebuilding the ramps and finally adding picnic tables, a playground and a dog park.

“There would be something for everyone,” Ms. Bendik said.

The couple, who splits time their between Greenport and their home outside Pittsburgh, Pa., hoped the first Skate Park Festival would raise enough money to at least repave the park, a projected estimated in 2010 to cost about $50,000. Three years later, they say they’ve raised nowhere near enough money to satisfy that initial goal.

She said this year’s Greenport Skate Park Festival, scheduled for Saturday, could be the last.

“It’s hard to keep it going when we’re so far away,” Ms. Bendik said. “It’s disappointing. The park is important for the community.”

But the future of the Greenport Skate Park may not be so grim.

In the spirit of the ragtag group of kids who initially sought to open a skate park in the first place, Matthew Drobny, a 16-year-old BMX rider who attends classes at Greenport High School, has quietly begun a local effort to restore the facility.

The 16-year-old started the Facebook group “Fix Greenport Skate Park” in 2011 and has gained a loyal group of followers.

“I thought if we get enough people and the town sees this then maybe they will think about fixing it up for all of us to do our thing,” he said.

While the effort has been slow to start, Matthew said he plans to speak with the village and hold rallies to bolster support.

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