Change.org City Island skate park petition gets traction

Family and friends of Drew Cottam (pictured), who passed away in a car accident at the age of 18, have started a petition in his memory calling attention to what they believe is a need for a skate park in Pelham Bay Park that would allow skateboarders, scooter riders and BMX enthusiasts a chance to hone their skills.
Photo courtesy of the Cottam family

A group of youth has started a petition calling for the creation of a skate park in the borough’s and city’s largest park.

A Change.org petition calling for the creation of a skate park for skateboarders and BMX bicycle riders at Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park has gathered over 2,000 signatures in its first five days.

The effort, named in memory of avid skateboarder and BMX bicyclist Drew Cottam, a City Island youth who passed away in a car accident on the Hutchinson River Parkway on September 30, 2018, is gaining momentum as a group of about a dozen young people, primarily from City Island, stepped up advocacy for a concrete skate park at a barren stretch of blacktop near Orchard Beach’s Section 4.

Cottam’s two brothers, Austin Cottam and Blake Cottam, said that the memory of their brother sparked the petition effort, which can be found at Change.org under ‘Drew P. Cottam Memorial Skate Park in Orchard Beach.’

It aims to serve youth on City Island and those nearby who don’t have a place close by to hone their skateboarding skills, BMX riding and other action sports maneuvers, said Austin Cottam.

“For years we wanted a skate park on City Island because it would be something good for kids in the community who are inside playing video games and who need to get active,” said Austin.

According to the petition, many pre-teen City Islanders who want to increase their skateboarding proficiency cannot leave the island without a parent’s accompaniment.

Nearby Orchard Beach would be a perfect fit for a concrete skate park with hills and ramps for action sports practice, according to the petition, because the beach has parking and available land.

Orchard Beach is also actively policed, 24-hours-a-day, and tended to by NYC Parks Department staff, which would help “prevent the negative behavior skate parks are notoriously stereotyped with,” according to the petition.

“It is hard to believe that the largest public park in NYC does not have a single space for skateboarders and BMX riders alike to practice and train their skillsets,” states the petition.

Ideally, they would like to see the construction of an 8,000 to 10,000 square foot skate park, said Blake.

Blake said that if the area the group has in mind wasn’t feasible, they would be willing to work with NYC Parks Department to find a suitable location.

Members of the group have spoken to Councilman Mark Gjonaj, who whole-heartedly supports their efforts.

“This group is enthusiastic and they want to be a part of something,” said Gjonaj, who said he suggested the online petition to spark energy and support for the plan after meeting skate park supporters.

The councilman said that he would work at the City Council to help design a skate park to meet their needs and to create a facility where competitions could occur.

“It is no longer going to be that you see these competitions in California on the beach, but right here in the Bronx, at our own ‘Riviera’,” said Gjonaj.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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