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‘If you build it, they will skate’: New skate park opens at Red Hook’s Harold Ickes Playground


A beat-up asphalt softball field in Red Hook has been given new life as a state-of-the-art skate park.

The “underutilized” field at Harold Ickes Playground, formerly flat and aged, now features new ramps and bowls for skaters and BMX bikers. 

According to the Parks department, the $4.3 million project — funded by the mayor’s office, the City Council, and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso — wrapped up months ahead of schedule and has been open to the public since its soft opening in February.

red hook skate park ribbon cuttingLocal skater Eric Hernandez “cut the ribbon” by skating through it on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

The park officially opened on July 2, as skater Eric Hernandez “cut the ribbon” by skateboarding through it. 

“As more New Yorkers take up sports like BMX biking and skateboarding, it’s vital that they have safe, dedicated spaces to practice, not just sidewalks and parking lots,” said Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, in a statement. “It’s inspiring to see the transformation that we were able to achieve in this playground, turning an underused asphalt softball field into a lively skate park that’s already won the hearts of many Red Hook residents.”

Work on the project first started in 2017, and the parks department worked with skateboarders and BMX bikers to develop their vision for the skate park. In addition to new ramps, bowls and rails for skaters to enjoy, the playground has a new bike repair station and air pumps. 

red hook skate park wide shotThe skate park was designed with help from skaters and BMX bikers. Photo courtesy of Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

For non-skaters, the green space now has a parkour space with safety surfacing to protect from falls and injuries and a climbing boulder. 

Throughout the playground, the parks department refreshed the greenery and planted new trees, installed new benches, security lighting, chess and checkers tables, and new water bottle filling stations.

“You know what they say: if you build it, they will skate,” said state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, in a statement. “Parks has transformed this underused field into a beautiful space for the Red Hook community to enjoy skating, biking, climbing, and simply spending time outdoors. These sports get kids — and adults — active, and teach us so many important lessons, from the patience required to master a skill to the importance of picking yourself up when you fall.”

skater in red hookSkaters tested out the new equipment after the ribbon-cutting. Photo courtesy of Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

The last few years have brought a revival for recreation facilities in Red Hook, which suffered from a lack of green and public spaces for years. Several of the nabe’s ball fields are open again after an intensive environmental cleanup, and the aging recreation center has received some major upgrades

More is coming, too. According to the parks department’s Capital Projects Tracker, work is underway to renovate the rest of the ball fields and the track at the Red Hook Recreation Area. Next spring, the renovated Red Hook Library will reopen after a two year closure

nyc parks martin maherA young skater fist bumps Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher.Photo courtesy of Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

Elsewhere in Brooklyn, the city plans to open two new skate parks as part of an effort to make New York City the “skate capital of the East Coast.” The “bare bones” skate park in Brower Park will get a significant upgrade, and a 40,000-square-foot park called the Brooklyn Skate Garden is planned for Mount Prospect Park.