In case you’re wondering how us New Yorkers have survived skateboarding during the last few winter seasons, I’ll tell you right now, it hasn’t been easy.
For the past few years, the skateboarding community in New York City has been familiar with the term “Mount Weather.” The Mount Weather project, for it’s time, was a successful investment. The problem was that the local skateboarders had to contribute to the warehouse rent every month by purchasing keys. This was a problem because most skaters here are usually broke. The other problem was that it segregated the community from key holders to non key holders. Making it a sort of exclusive club that made the kids here feel unaccepted and unappreciated. In my opinion, feeling unaccepted is usually why some kids start skating in the first place, right? To sorta find where they fit in. This was not a good look for the community. I know and understand that it costs money to keep the space open, but this isn’t The Berrics. Regardless, the mount weather project eventually became a hassle for everyone. Finding an annual, consistant, and affordable warehouse space that would get rented to skateboarders was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The last warehouse available was inside of KCDC Skateshop during their moving and renovating process in 2006. That didn’t even last the entire winter. Since then, skaters have been going out of their way to get to the closest, cheapest, and most well rounded skate park. The nearest one is about an hour drive outside of the city. The park is good, but too far out of the way for most kids here in the Big Apple. This has been a problem for years. How can we live in New York City and not have a proper skate park? The closest thing that we had to one was Tompkins Square Park. A public park that has never been a secure place for anyone to be in. There’s way to many crackheads and heroin addicts in that park. Not to mention the scheduled baseball games that take place in the afternoon. Plus, the skaters there just skate on flat ground and maybe bring out a flat bar that would eventually get taken away by the Parks Department because no one has, or can afford a permit. Is this what skateboarding has become in NYC? The answer is no. Everything is about taking an initiative and being in the right place at the right time.
Gainsville Florida’s finest Billy Rohan, moved to New York City a while back to pursue skateboarding. He’s had an amazing impact on the local scene here and continues to push the envelope with not just his skateboarding skills but with his actions. He’s beginning to set a standard for the inevitable evolution of skate parks here in NYC. Billy, being a young, charismatic and active skateboarder within the community, took the initiative needed and directly contacted Alnardo “NANDO” Rodriguez, founder of “Open Road of New York.” A non-profit organization. O.R.N.Y. happens to own a small field behind a public school on 12th street and Avenue A in the “Alphabet City” side of downtown Manhattan. Billy was able to present to Alnardo his idea of having a place to skate all year round with annual sponsored events like contests and demos. He added that his intentions are to build as much as possible to keep skating going here in NYC. Sounds like great intentions to me. He was also able to get a lot of open donations from the following companies: Acapulco Gold, Vans, Supreme, Autumn, KCDC, and Krooked. Mark Gonzales even paid to have his “krooked eyes” logo painted on the wall at the new skate park to show Billy that he can see where he’s coming from. Most recently, Matix donated their obstacles from Lord of the Lines competitions that were held at the ASR Trade Show the last couple of years. The ball has definitely started rolling for Mr. Rohan, with the first big contest on the way this april and the help of Augie Galan, Alnardo Rodriguez, Scotty Schwartz, and Nancy Rohan (Billyy’s mother who contributed to the new skatepark by painting the logos on the wall and building a 10 stair set in the snow). 12th and A has been designed, and is being built to be the most legitimate, and best skate park to ever happen for skateboarders by skateboarders here in the city that never sleeps. I would personally like to thank Billy Rohan, for the success of all his efforts in giving everyone here a fun and free place to skate. Thanks Billy!
For more information regarding the new skatepark on 12th and A contact BillyRohan@yahoo.com and for up to date footage of the new skatepark, you can checkout Billy’s blog at billysnuts.blogspot.com.–Rodney Torres