Bedford + Bowery
By Kavitha Surana
A brand-new skate park in East Williamsburg was swarmed this evening with those eager to test their glide on the ledges, ramps and rails.
The mood was enthusiastic as skaters descended on Cooper Park, but despite crowds people politely waited turns for a chance to practice ollies and tricks. The smell of something herbal wafted from a far corner.
Many of the skaters said they were from other neighborhoods and boroughs and were coming to check out the scene. But for the locals, the new park is a major upgrade.
“It’s amazing,” said Yuriy Antoniv, 16, who began skating over two years ago. He used to skate at Knickerbocker Park but said Cooper Park was way better. “Before we’d have to go to a skatepark really far, but we only live 10 minutes away from here,” he said.
Reviews from veterans of the city’s skate-terrain were also positive: “It’s a lot of different parks all in one, all together,” said Alex Ruballo, 20, taking a break from practicing tricks on the A-line, his favorite part of the new park. “If you could compare with any park in the city, it’s closer to Tribeca or LES,” he added.
His friend, Adrian Chen, 21, also appreciated the grind scene. “It has really mellow obstacles, nothing really is too hard and there’s like, something for everyone: a ledge, a rail, little banks, little manny-pads,” he said.
The park facelift, on what used to be dilapidated sports fields, was paid for in 2011 by Council Member Antonio Reynoso’s office and construction began earlier this spring. Beyond the skatepark, the renovation also includes a dog run and basketball, tennis and handball courts.
Skater connoisseurs said Cooper was better than its neighbors. McCarren Park, opened in 2009, had never quite cut it. “It’s horrible there,” said Chen. “Here, if you fall on this floor it’s nice and smooth, if you fall over there, it’s like falling on the sidewalk.”
“It’s like a cheese grater!” added Ruballo.
The only complaint at Cooper? So far, the park is a victim of its success. “It’s really over-packed,” said Chen. “We don’t have parks like that, that’s why.” The boys said that, earlier in the day, they had even seen local pro skaters Alex Olson and Bobby Worrest come by for a spin. That’ll probably die down as the winter gets colder and Cooper Park becomes old(er) news.