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“We like the building, and the location is awesome, but the rent is ridiculous,” said Ed Pollio, who owns the custom-built 8,000-square-foot recreation center with partner and 5050 Skatepark founder Angelica Popolano.
“Since we first moved there our rent has almost doubled,” said Popolano of the 5050 Skatepark location at 354 Front St. — just a mile from the Staten Island Ferry.
NEW LOCATION PROPOSED
The good news is the skatepark owners already have their eyes set on a new site. Their vision is not a new one, as it is a concept they have had for several years now.
Pollio and Popolano would like to move their park to the historic, vacant hangar at Miller Field, and already have a 26-page proposal and renderings of their plans.
The owners, who first brought their idea to the National Park Service (NPS) in summer 2015, are just waiting for NPS to release a request for proposal (RFP) for the site.
“The current construction effort to save Miller Field Hangar 38 is underway and should be completed by the end of the year,” said Daphne Yun, acting public affairs officer for Gateway National Recreation Area.
Yun noted that a decision about an RFP will be made in 2018.
Borough President Oddo said he agrees with the owners’ plan to “reuse the hanger at Miller Field for active recreation.”
“5050 Skatepark, which is the city’s only indoor skate park, offers a unique service and would be a great addition to the facility,” said Oddo, who added, “Having new and increased sports opportunities on the grounds of Miller Field would encourage more young people to get active while socializing with others, which is always a positive thing.”
A POPULAR SPOT
Will Kane, a 13-year-old Westerleigh resident, has been riding a BMX bike for almost a year now. Heading to 5050 Skatepark each week is one of his favorite things to do.
“Everybody likes the setup there..the ramps are fun. They like to change it up a lot,” said Kane. “Sometimes they build new ramps and sometimes they move them around. It doesn’t ever get boring.”
The young biker said he’d be upset if the park moved to New Dorp, as it’s farther away from where he lives.
He pointed out that many “BMXers” are from the North Shore and some even travel from Manhattan and Brooklyn to the park.
MILLER FIELD LOCATION
However, Popolano pointed out that Miller Field offers a great central location in the borough and is close to all public transportation. The size of the location also provides many opportunities to expand the business.
She said she feels it would be a great place to continue to serve not only as a recreational hotspot but as multi-use facility for the borough.
“We already welcome schools….we do a summer camp, we host fundraisers, music events, art shows, auctions, community meetings, music videos, commercials, movies, birthday parties– we do everything,” she said, adding, “With a larger space, we can expand on everything we do already.”
Renderings done by 5050 Skatepark for the proposed site include space for a community center, live music venue, art building and World War I and II museum, in addition to the skatepark. The plans also include a computer lab and space for rock climbing, according to Popolano.
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BMX bikers and NFL players have also stopped by. Owner Ed Pollio says it’s such a popular spot because they’ve got a unique appeal.
“Skateboarding and BMX is something building in popularity, so, you know, major stars accept that if I have this in my music video, it’ll help me reach an audience that’s untapped,” said Ed Pollio, Owner of 5050 Skatepark.
Pollio and his girlfriend Angelica Popolano opened the city’s 1st indoor skatepark in July 2012, after Popolano, who used to work for the parks department, noticed how popular the public skate parks were.
At first, Pollio didn’t think 5050 would last. “It’s pretty cool how the community supported us & we’re still here after 3 years. We didn’t even think we’d make it a year. You know, it was so experimental,” Pollio stated.
They say a heavy social media presence has helped them grow. The couple splits the duties. Pollio builds the ramps.
Poplano takes care of the administrative work.
“I wanna do something good & it just motivates you, seeing when she does a great email blast. It just motivates me to, you know, build a cool ramp,” Pollio chimed.
Those who come here on a regular basis say the skatepark has a significant impact on their lives.
“We’ve become best friends just by being at a skatepark. If it wasn’t for here, I don’t know what I’d be doing,” said Oakwood resident Aidan Snachez-Campo.
“I keep on coming back because it’s a fun place. I like it,” Stapleton resident Sebastian Brann added.
“We’re all really close here. We’re all like best friends, “said Anthony Cataldo, Hugenot resident.
Best friends with a lot of patience, as they watched me chicken out of going down the smallest ramp they have.
Pollio and Popolano say they’d love to expand. As development on Front St. continues, they’re anticipating how it’ll affect the park,
“It’s gonna bring a lot of people in. It’s gonna bring a lot of kids to the neighborhood and hopefully bring in more people who will learn about skateboarding,” stated Angelica Popolano Owner, of 5050 Skatepark.
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