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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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See how to fix your chain or a flat tire on the trail with professional mountain biker Eric Porter.
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A video by Jon Lynn.
The Boondocks Trails written by Thad Allender.
Thumbnail image by Jon Nemecek
The Boondocks Trails are a world-class set of bike trails located in Pineridge Park in Melville, NY. The 162-acre park is landlocked between a landfill, parking lots, Interstate 495, and a residential neighborhood.
The park has been used by the public for decades for hiking and biking. Soil samples indicate that a major fire within the last 50 years destroyed what was presumably woodlands around the time of the construction of Interstate 495. The park is now comprised primarily of new oak trees and low-bush blueberry.
About 11 years ago, a group of volunteers began to maintain and improve the existing bike trails. The trails has been diligently maintained by dozens of local volunteers ever since. The bike trails consist of paths for beginners and experts. Riders as young as 2 years-old and as old as 76 years-old ride the trails. The hand-built trails are now at risk of being bulldozed by city officials from the Town of Huntington, with one local volunteer isolated and presented with the bill to pay for demolition.
The bike trails are a destination for local bike riders and riders from all over the world. For example, on Saturday August 27, riders from as far away as Australia visited the trails to ride the trails. There were also riders from Washington. D.C., New York City, upstate New York and various cities located in Long Island.
More than 3,000 bike riders visited these bike trails in 2016. They include engineers, CEO’s, firefighters, police officers, designers, construction workers, the list goes on and on.
On any weekend, the bicyclists who visit the trails purchase hotel rooms, train tickets, rental cars, food, and bike parts from local businesses. Every out-of-town bicyclist injects an estimated $100 per day into the local economy. It’s not uncommon to see upwards of 20 bicyclists riding these world-class trails on any Saturday or Sunday. These bicyclists are a familiar face at businesses including nearby restaurants including Kitchen Coliseum and bike shops like Bicycle Playground and Cyclefast USA. These bicyclists play an important role in the success of these local businesses. Without the trails, these businesses will suffer and there will be one less place to enjoy bike riding and the outdoors.
The volunteers who maintain the bike trails are stewards of the park, which has no on-site management or oversight. Unlike sports like golf, basketball and baseball that require expensive development, the terrain that bicyclists require is minimal, low-impact and environmentally-friendly. The only terrain required for bike trails is dirt. The trails were hand-built with shovels and work with the natural terrain and trees. Trees are never disturbed. Flora is always transplanted if it intersects a trail. Drainage is maintained to eliminate standing water. There is a stated “pack it in, pack it out” policy that is enforced by volunteers and respected by all bicyclists. The environmental impact of the bike trails is minimal. It’s precisely the type of outdoor activity that should be encouraged in landlocked, unmanaged parkland.
Destroying the bike trails with heavy machinery would cause irreparable damage to the park, it’s trees, it’s vegetation, and wildlife. It would also unintentionally create new roadways into the park, which ATV’s, motorcycles, and other motorized vehicles would unquestionably start using.
COST TO BUILD
The trails were hand-built with shovels over the course of 11 years by volunteers from the local community. The cost to build trails of this caliber, while maintaining the same minimal environmental impact, would cost the Town of Huntington well over one million of dollars.
In 2011, the city of Boulder Colorado spent $1.2 million dollars on the Valmont Bike Park, which the city considers a signature project. Similarly, the park attracts riders from all over the world.
The cost to rebuild this level of bike trails is easily in the millions of dollars. Many towns and cities around the country are paying millions to establish bike trails just like this for their local residents. The existing bike trails represent a 10,000 hour head-start and millions in savings that the Town of Huntington should take advantage of. The Town of Huntington should seize this opportunity and work with the local volunteers to establish “The Boondocks” as the first official bike park on Long Island.
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2nd Place Adam Hauck & Cory Wiergowski by Jeff Tabb for Albe’s Mailorder
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Southern California has played such a vital role in the the growth of BMX and Mountain Biking, yet the city of Los Angeles fails to have even one bicycle sanctioned dirt park. There are, however, 52 public skateparks in Los Angeles, but only a handful of them allow bikes.
Our goal is to create the first ever publicly funded, state owned dirt park in Los Angeles. A place for the BMX & Mountain Biking community to call home.
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