With warm weather approaching, the Pier 35 esplanade, located under the FDR Drive overpass at the base of Clinton Street, is attracting skateboarders who are “terrorizing” LES residents, according to Manhattan Community Board 3; as a result, the board has called for increased enforcement of an area skateboarding ban that’s being blatantly ignored.
At a Parks Committee meeting earlier this month, the community came out in numbers to say skateboarders are coming in from outside neighborhoods and “causing a lot of damage and disruption,” said Kathleen Webster, vice chairperson of CB 3’s Parks, Recreation, Cultural Affairs and Waterfront Committee. “People are being nearly run over, and they were asking for reinforcement and change in the structures.”
“Nine times people have gotten hurt, including two kids that have gotten into serious accidents,” added Trevor Holland, a public member of CB 3’s Parks Committee. With its view of the river, exercise equipment and benches, the pier should be an ideal place for the area’s sizable elderly population to relax, he said. “It’s beautiful, but unfortunately it’s become a world-class skate park.”
“Last summer this was the spot. There were pro skaters here and everything,” said skater Dillon Collins of Bedford–Stuyvesant. Today he and his friend, Dom Martinez, of East Meadow, Long Island, were disappointed to find that new metal stops had been implemented since the last ones had been removed. This time they were welded, rather than screwed, in place, which the duo said was an effective deterrent.
Collins and Martinez said they understood the residents’ complaints, but felt like they should be allowed to skate just like other people are permitted to use the exercise machines or ride bikes. “We want to do our thing while they do their thing,” said Martinez. “We never wanted to hurt anyone.”
The promenade just opened last year, but it’s looking like the city is going to have to redo many its the structures because they’re so appealing to skateboarders and are actually being damaged by skaters “grinding” on their surfaces. The park is so popular that people come from all over the world skate there; Holland said he even spoke to a skater from Hong Kong who came to the pier because he had heard about it through the skating community.
The resolution states that CB 3 “supports the NYC Parks PEP officers in their new measures to randomize patrols on the waterfront to prevent stunt skateboarding, and to continue their personal rapport with skateboarders to verbally encourage them not to break the rules before issuing tickets for repeated offenders.”
The community board made an amendment to note the fact that Coleman Playground Skate Park is just a few blocks away. It was widely agreed by the board that the park is not very attractive to skateboarders, so they also added that efforts should be made to make it more appealing. Martinez and Collins said the skate park does get use and that they were planning on skating there that day, though they acknowledged that last summer it was often where skaters would “warm up” before coming to the pier.