Sound & Skate Festival to help restore Greenport skate park
Greenport has been home to a vibrant skateboarding scene and one of Long Island’s most exciting skateparks since it was built in 1998, but over the decades since this park has slowly decayed and fallen into a state of deep disrepair. .
The 20,000 square foot playground for various wheeled sports – including skateboards, scooters, BMX bikes, inline skates (aka roller blades) and others – has the largest green ramp (halfpipe) of Long Island, as well as a variety of funboxes, quarter pipes, rails and other items. But it became filled with loose nails, rotting boards, cracked concrete, graffiti and trash.
Although repair efforts were made, nothing ever really gained the momentum needed to complete things, and the future of Greenport Skate Park looked bleak.
However, all of that is changing thanks to a diverse group of residents who started the Greenport Skate Park Revitalization Project through Greenport Skate Park Inc., a non-profit committee aimed at making the park better than ever, while using it as a place to foster positivity, growth and socialization for local children.
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As part of this effort to raise money to make needed repairs and renovations, Greenport Skate Park is hosting the Greenport Sound & Skate Festival, a special fundraising event featuring live music from eight to nine bands, a graffiti and mural contest with top artists and cash prizes, skateboarding competitions, vendors and more at the park (170 Moores Lane) on Saturday, August 6 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. h
Rena Wilhelm discusses the Greenport Skate Park project
Greenport Skate Park Inc. president Rena Wilhelm, a local business owner who runs The Weathered Barn on Front Street, says the project took shape a few years ago after an 11-year-old boy, Dane Jensen asked his mother to share photos of the ravaged park on social media.
“We have a Facebook page called ‘Let’s Talk About the Village of Greenport,'” Wilhelm says, describing the moment she saw the photos and found herself compelled to take up the cause.
“There was some unfortunate graffiti that happened and there were just a few cement props that were crumbling, and this kid was like, ‘What can we do?’ and asked for help,” she recalls.
“I saw the message and my heart broke a little bit, and I’m one of those people who goes, ‘OK, what do we have to do? Let’s do it’, without even thinking that I would eventually become the president of this project.”
Wilhelm, who is not a skater and has no children, says she reached out to other like-minded locals, formed a committee and started trying to help by resurrecting a long-gone festival at the skate park in 2019. But just as things were rolling, COVID hit and derailed their work.
“In a way, it was a blessing in disguise because I ended up meeting other people who were instrumental in wanting to help, and it gave us time to put all of our ducks in a row,” says -she. “We also got our approval (to create) a not-for-profit entity.”
Now, after three years, the Sound & Skate Festival is back, bigger and better funded than before.
In addition to planning the festival, the committee and many volunteers met for weekly “work sessions” on Wednesday evenings, replacing rotten pieces plank by plank, adding metal sheathing and tearing out old rusty screws to fix them. replace with all-weather, galvanized nails.
“We did it as a committee, we did it on our own,” Wilhelm says, pointing out that their work, including repainting and general cleaning, has already made the park a lot better, but it much remains to be done.
“It’s really the south side of the park that we’re focusing on because the north side is the one that has the green ramp,” she adds, noting that skaters in the area remain quite protective of the 40ft wide by 12- foot high ramp, which is rare to see in a municipal skatepark.
“We take into consideration all the people who skate there and what they like about the park, what they don’t like. The green ramp is one of those things, it’s a colossal skating accessory, for lack of a better word, that people don’t want to get rid of,” says Wilhelm. “So it was important that we restructured that and made sure that all the supports were reinforced.”
Greenport Skatepark Revitalization Goals
To completely raze the park and rebuild it from scratch would cost around $1 million, Wilhelm says, but by simply fixing and improving what already exists, and entirely redoing only the south side, the cost comes closer to $250,000. dollars. “It’s not a major overhaul, it just needs a few tweaks, and it would make a big difference,” she adds.
The Sound & Skate Festival could do a lot to raise funds, but to organize the event, Wilhelm says they needed money to make money. Over Memorial Day weekend of that year, the committee held a “Decked Out” event, which had sponsors, as well as a fashion show and auction featuring repainted skateboard decks by 30 artists. local.
This event raised approximately $30,000 and the committee used the money for festival expenses, such as purchasing a sound system to use at the next festival and any future events at the park.
Wilhelm has also been in talks with The Skatepark Project (formerly the Tony Hawk Foundation), which will offer grants for skate parks in 2023. She notes that the foundation tends to view projects that have already reached 30% of their funding more favorably. objective. .
“So that’s kind of our immediate goal…even if we get to $100,000, then at least we can go back to (Tony Hawk’s foundation) Skatepark project and say, ‘Look, we’ve got this community invested in make it a better place. Then they are more likely to help you,” she says.
Community and positivity at Greenport Skate Park
More than just a fundraiser, Wilhelm hopes the Greenport community will come to the festival and see that the skate park is a place of great positivity for local kids and adults. “…a lot of times people associate skate parks with seedy behavior, and it’s not that at all,” she says.
“First of all, skateboarding is a massive industry, and not just on the entrepreneurial side of business, design and athletics – there’s the influence of music, there’s the influence of fashion. So as part of the nonprofit organization, those are also things that we focus on, helping these kids navigate different areas if they want to,” she continues.
“I’ve never seen in my life another group of kids/adults who welcome every single person into their circle. It’s not like us versus them, or beginners versus advanced, or seniors versus kids – if someone wants to learn, you have this whole group behind you cheering and cheering you on. It’s great to watch,” Wilhelm says, acknowledging this unique subculture with no gatekeepers.
“This generation of kids are just cheering on each other instead of being a clique. And the whole female aspect too. Seeing young girls coming out, young-young with their little helmets and gear, and trying out some of those tricks, it’s great to see,” she adds.
“It’s such a diverse sport/activity that people need to come together instead of assuming it’s about anything other than all the good parts.”
Learn more about the Greenport Sound & Skate Festival and the Greenport Skate Park Revitalization Project at greenportskatepark.org or Instagram @greenportskatepark.