Construction has begun on a skate park at a well-utilized Bronx park.
Ground was broken on Tuesday, June 5 at Williamsbridge Oval on a $977,000 skate park for skateboarding that was originally envisioned 15 years ago and is expected to be completed within the next 8 months.
NYC Department of Parks broke ground with community groups Friends of the Oval and Partnership with Parks, along with Community Board 7.
Skateboarders helped to design the park, according to multiple sources, and it will feature a series of steep banks, stairs with quarter pipes and mounds for skateboarding.
Councilman Andrew Cohen funded the skateboarding hub with a $750,000 allocation.
Mitchell Silver, NYC Parks commissioner, said in his remarks at the groundbreaking that the Norwood community had been clamoring for a skate park and that he was excited to be adding another recreational use to Williamsbridge Oval which already features tennis, soccer, track and bocce.
Cohen said that a planning meeting for the project was attended by 50 local skateboarders, who contributed their own ideas, some that were included in the final design.
“This is obviously not the first skate park in the city, but we tweaked it with some unique designs for the oval,” said Cohen, adding that the project was originally brought to his attention by youth in the Norwood community and that was glad he was able to secure funding.
The amenities in the skate park should provide both standard skate features and the opportunity for both transitional-style skating (which mimics skating in an empty swimming-pool) and street-style skating (which involves objects found in urban life), according to sources.
The skate park will be slightly sunken to accommodate all of the features and blend into the surrounding topography, according to Parks.
Doug Condit, Friends of the Oval vice president, said that the skate park had been originally planned in 2003 after dollars for capital improvements in Bronx parks were made available as part of the Croton Filtration Plant mitigation funding, which funded borough parks in exchange for allowing authorities to site a water filtration plant under Van Cortlandt Park.
It became clear in 2013 that the mitigation funding had run out and at that time Friends of the Oval and its skateboarding committee reached out to the media to highlight the need for a skate park in Williamsbridge Oval, said Condit.
Cohen was able to securing funding in 2014, he said.
The project hit a snag when the $750,000 allocated was not enough to cover the winning bid in the procurement process. At that point the mayor’s office stepped in with $227,000 in additional funding, said Condit.
Additional concerns arose over whether or not to place fencing around the skate park, he said.
Another skate park being constructed in nearby Van Cortlandt Park near Broadway and West 242nd Street has been delayed because the contractor went belly-up.
That skate park, also designed with skater input and funded by former Councilman Oliver Koppell, had a groundbreaking in 2017.
“The city is trying to get that project moving again,” said Cohen. “It’s conceivable that this (skate park) is completed before that project.”