05/06/14 12:00pm
05/06/2014 12:00 PM

Greenport Village Mayor David Nyce (left) talks with local skater Justin “Bo” Pollack about ways to fix the Moores Lane skate park. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Hoping for a new beginning for Greenport Village’s long-neglected skate park, the village is taking over the annual Skate Park Festival, which up until now was run by private organizers. (more…)

08/20/13 5:00pm
08/20/2013 5:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Trustee George Hubbard Jr. suggested Monday that local skateboarder Beau Pollock (pictured) would made an excellent skate park committee member.

Following reports of graffiti and trash littering the Greenport Skate Park, village board members are calling for the formation of a committee to help maintain the facility.

Trustee George Hubbard Jr. proposed the idea during Tuesday’s work session. The suggestion comes after an article in The Suffolk Times that detailed graffiti spelling out obscene messages and anti-Semitic symbols, holes the size of volleyballs in the ramps and trash piles on the ground beneath them.

Part-time Greenport resident Michelle Bendik, who co-organizes with her husband the Greenport Skate Park Festival, which raises money to rebuild the park, had said this might be the last year she hosts the event.

“I would rather it not be the last one,” Mr. Hubbard said. “It’s more than they can handle from where their [primary residence in Pittsburgh] is and I’d like to get together some of us to work to maintain it year round.”

The committee would consist of local residents that would assist in the upkeep throughout the year, Mr. Hubbard said. The members would be responsible for developing ideas and developing an action, he said.

Mayor David Nyce said he has already received interest from community members seeking to restore the park.

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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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08/08/13 5:59am

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | A swastika painted on a ramp at the Greenport Skatepark remained visible three days after a Suffolk Times reporter alerted the Village to its presence.

In almost any village in America, phone calls from the local media alerting officials to a swastika spray-painted at a local park would be cause for immediate action.

Apparently that’s not the case in Greenport.

Five days after a Suffolk Times reporter informed Mayor David Nyce and village administrator David Abatelli of the hate graffiti at the Greenport Skate Park on Moore’s Lane, we returned to find the symbol still visible. Yes, five days later, as this issue was published, the swastika remained.

No report appeared in this week’s Southold Town police blotter, either.

When we first contacted Mr. Nyce, he returned our call with a phone message indicating village employees would remove the paint. We’re still waiting.

Reporter Cyndi Murray’s cover story about the problems facing the skate park reveals a major flaw in the way the facility is managed. Mr. Abatelli points out in the story that the park opened 15 years ago with no maintenance plan in place. While community members have launched ambitious campaigns in the past to clean up the park, no major improvements have ever taken place.

But if one statement in the story echoes the village’s current attitude toward the park, it’s this one from Mr. Abatelli: “The kids are lucky it’s still there,” he said.

It’s a statement you wouldn’t expect from a leader in a community where residents speak so often of their hometown pride.

The Village needs to hammer out a plan for the long-term maintenance of the skate park. This proud community should demand as much.

UPDATE: Village workers were at the park at 9 a.m. Thursday painting over the portion of the ramp where the swastika was painted.

Skate ramp painted in Greenport