Seton Park planners cater to skaters

A contractor’s woes have put Vannie’s new skate park on hold, but the parks department says kids soon will have another venue to practice their acid drops, boardslides and nose grinds: Seton Park.

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Seton Park may soon become “Seton Skate Park.”

Well, not exactly, but the park between West 235th and 232nd streets is slated to get a few renovations — including a skate park — thanks to funding from Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr., Councilman Andrew Cohen and Sen. Jeffrey Klein. 

Some $1.2 million is coming to the park, with some funds diverted to the under-utilized basketball courts at Seton, which will now make way for a skate park. The change earned the approval of Community Board 8 earlier this year primarily because there was no housing nearby that might be affected by noise from such a venue, according to a statement from the city’s parks department.

However, if a skate park in CB8 sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because Van Cortlandt Park was on track to getting its own venue last year. The original contractors broke ground on the project, but not much else has happened since because the park developers filed for bankruptcy protection, halting construction, according to Friends of Van Cortlandt Park executive director Christina Taylor.

But the Vannie venue isn’t dead. Parks department officials say they’re looking for a new contractor, with the hopes of completing the skate park there by late 2019.

“I have been briefed by parks that the plans for the project are complete, now they are figuring out the logistics,” Cohen said about the Vannie skate park project. “I insist that they do so as soon as possible.”

But Seton Park is getting more than a place for skateboarders. Also part of the plans are a fitness area, reconstruction of two sets of concrete stairs, new water service and drainage, and park security lighting. 

With another skate park slated for completion next year at Williamsbridge Oval Park in Norwood, this part of the Bronx will ultimately have three skate parks available. That might seem like a lot, but Taylor insists there’s pretty sizable demand for them.

“There is an issue with people skateboarding around schools and on the school grounds,” Taylor said. “Maybe they’re not going to walk all the way down to Broadway if there’s one down the street they can use.” 

Multiple skate parks in the same area may give people more flexibility on where they want to go, she added.

 

A good skate

Cohen recognizes the need for skate parks as well. 

“We still have skaters occupying spaces like Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy almost daily, so my hope is that this new park will offer skaters in the Riverdale community another space to do what they love,” he said. 

Diaz pulled $830,000 from his own capital budget to fund the Seton Park improvements because he wants to build a healthier Bronx, his office said in a statement. Cohen earmarked $410,000 in city council funds toward the project as well. 

“We must make sure that our shared recreation spaces are in good condition and inviting to the public so that more and more Bronxites of all ages will take advantage of them,” Diaz said in the statement. “What starts off as kids being kids — playing sports, and running around, having fun in our park spaces — becomes the building blocks to developing a healthier lifestyle as our kids become adults..”

A skate park won’t come to Seton Park anytime soon, however. 

Instead, plan for closer to 2021 as city officials will need at least a year for design, another year to bring in the contractor, and one last year for construction.

The design phase will include community input, parks department officials said. Residents will have a chance to provide recommendations for a number of enhancements including exercise equipment.

 “Community input is a crucial part of our design process,” parks officials said.

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