Since she was a teenager, the Greenport skate park has been an oasis for learning, community and lifelong friendship for Brooke Pollock.
As a beginner — and as a woman — she admits it was intimidating. Imagine trying a new trick in a park filled with your peers, many of them effortlessly soaring over ramps. Or working up the nerve to attempt to skate the park’s 12-foot vertical half pipe, the only one on Long Island.
What she found, though, was a warm welcome. “Everyone was so supportive,” she recalled recently. “You can come here and practice your tricks as many times as you need to. And nobody’s going to laugh at you, because we’re all learning here.”
Pollock, now 32, can be found more often on roller skates than a skateboard these days. She’s now passing on her love for the sport to her eight-year-old daughter, Penny.
On one sunny weekday afternoon, the two sat in the shade, finishing their juice boxes, strapping on knee pads and starting to skate, gliding over gentle ramps as Miley Cyrus’ new album played over a Bluetooth speaker.
“I’m happy that I’m able to get [Penny] into it, have her be inspired and get her friends into it,” Pollock said.
But the skate park they know and love is in dire need of a facelift.
“We spent so much time here during the pandemic and I was like, ‘This is not safe,’” Pollock explained. “There were nails popping out,” Penny pointed out.
She decided to get involved with the Greenport Skate Park Project committee, which was formed in 2019 in response to neglect and deterioration at the 20,000 square foot village facility.
The volunteers, headed by Dan and Colette Galvez, have been working to make necessary repairs to the park during “work sessions” that are held regularly. Projects have included replacing old, rotting plywood, reinforcing supports, trading rusted nails for galvanized screws and, in general, cleaning up the site.
But advocates say that more thorough renovations, rather than patchwork repairs, are needed. They are hoping to offset some costs by raising money at a fundraiser set for Saturday, May 28 at the George D. Costello Roller Rink on Third Street.
The event, dubbed ‘Decked Out,’ will include a fashion show and skate deck raffle, according to Rena Wilhelm, who helped organize the event.
“We thought the best way to do that would be to incorporate some other things involved in skate culture, such as fashion, music and art,” Wilhelm explained. “It goes way beyond the actual sport.”
The fashion show will feature looks from the Times Vintage, a line of clothing Wilhelm reimagined in a retro, British-punk-invasion theme. She also partnered with local interior designer Jesse Elliott on a line of military-inspired streetwear using clothing sourced from Rothco. Acclaimed designer Alex Vinash, who owns a Greenport boutique, will also show designs from his spring collection.
The models for the show also include many local, familiar faces.
“Skateboarding and skate culture has made its way to New York Fashion Week, massive fashion magazines and huge runway shows years ago,” Wilhelm explained.
As skateboarding grew in popularity, its signature styles and fashion also became more widespread. Today, the look is back en vogue as a new generation embraces 90s and Y2K style.
“Greenport is so community oriented and this is a perfect example of the community rallying around an attraction in the village that’s not for the businesses. It’s specifically for the kids in our community.”Rena Wilhelm
In addition to the fashion show, more than 30 skate decks will be auctioned off as works of art.
Several local artists, including Kelly Franke, Kara Hoblin, Caroline Waloski, Scott Bluedorn, Madison Fender and Verona Peñalba designed decks and the auction even grabbed the attention of other Long Island artists, including tattoo artists, graphic novelists, glass and collage artists.
Wilhelm said holding the event at the roller rink is a perfect match since that too was saved as a result of a grassroots initiative. “Greenport is so community oriented and this is a perfect example of the community rallying around an attraction in the village that’s not for the businesses. It’s specifically for the kids in our community.”
The idea for the park was borne out of necessity. Former mayor Dave Kapell recalled that at the time, the use of public sidewalks, lots and other spaces to skate prompted a slew of complaints from constituents. Makeshift ramps were set up and those familiar with the setup recall it was a teenage skater’s heaven.
“It was a source of controversy,” Kapell said in a recent interview. “Meanwhile, these kids were just trying to have a good time.”
Ultimately, a coalition of parents, residents, village officials and skaters was formed and plans for an official facility took shape. Articles in The Suffolk Times from 1998 note that the park was modeled after a similar facility in Manhattan’s Riverside Park by the late skating legend Andy Kessler, who helped the village develop plans for the park.
Another article noted that Mr. Kapell’s office “had been getting daily requests from as far as Babylon from kids wondering when it [would] be built.”
“It was all about the kids from start to finish. It still is,” Kapell said. “Kids were riding the train out from western Long Island,” to use the park, the first municipal skate park on the island.
“It’s amazing to me that 25 years later, they’re still using it. But it needs attention now,” he said.
Even still, the park still attracts skaters from well beyond the North Fork, drawn to its lore and famed ramps.
On the day a reporter visited the park, Pollock and her daughter were joined by their friend Nikki Parish, a Coram resident who said she doesn’t mind the long journey to Greenport. “I drive out here because it’s the best park in terms of variety,” she said.
The committee is also planning to relaunch the annual skate park festival at the skate park and polo grounds off Moores Lane in August. The Sound and Skate Festival will be held August 6 and feature over 100 vendors, live music, raffles, food trucks, live mural and graffiti painting as well as skateboarding, rollerblading/skating, BMX, and scooter demonstrations.
Any funds raised by the event, Wilhelm said, will help the group accomplish future projects the group has envisioned for the park. One day, they hope to install a skating ‘bowl’ or pump track, a circular loop of peaks and valleys popular among BMXers.
“It’s a huge attraction,” Wilhelm said. “Skating needs have changed over the years and the park has not grown with that trend.”
The ‘Decked Out’ fashion show and skate deck auction will be held on Saturday, May 28 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the George D. Costello Roller Rink on Third Street in Greenport. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.
Tickets include light snacks provided by First & South Restaurant, wine provided by Cellier Wines & Nofo Crush and beer supplied by Greenport Harbor Brewing Company.
Ticket purchases also include one raffle ticket for a silent auction and a ticket for a complimentary cocktail for an after party at Green Hill Kitchen in Greenport.
Tickets are $65 each, $110 for a couple and $140 for a family of four. There are also tickets available for young adults ages 25 and under for $45. More information can be found at greenportskatepark.org.