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A Haven for Borough Skateboarders

Robert Arce came to Ozone Park from Costa Rica four years ago and immediately decided to start skateboarding.

Arce, 20, said he would watch skateboarders in his homeland and was in awe of the tricks they could do, like grinding on a rail, leaping off a launch ramp and riding a quarter pipe. He said he had tried other sports, such as mountain biking, and was intrigued by the challenge of buying a skateboard to start skating.

"This is my life," Arce said. "I have always liked to go for the extreme sports."

Arce was just one of 10 skateboarders on hand Monday to inaugurate the new mobile skateboard park in Forest Park. The facility uses equipment that can be moved and situated in different positions on the basketball courts just off the park's Woodhaven Boulevard entrance in Woodhaven

The skateboard park is the first of its kind in Queens and was assembled with the help and input of borough skaters. Another one is soon to be build in the Rockaways, City Councilman Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said.

"This is a start for us," said Addabbo, who chairs the City Council's committee on parks. "It is my pleasure to have this here."

Addabbo was able to secure a $5,000 grant from the city's Department of Youth and Community Development to pay for the multi-piece skateboarding equipment, which include a launch ramp, a grinding rail, a quarter pipe, a tabletop, a wedge and a grinding ledge.

The skateboarding area, which will also be open to inline skaters, will be open on Mondays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. An administrator from Forest Park will be on hand during those hours to supervise the skaters, city Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe said, and all who use the facility will be required to wear a helmet.

Skaters will also be required to sign waiver forms that absolve the city of any liability in case they are injured, a Parks Department spokeswoman said.

But the possibility of danger on a skateboard did not deter the skaters Monday from practicing difficult tricks to impress onlookers.

Andrew Monteleone, 12, said he was interested in trying out all the new equipment at the park. He said he has been skating for almost two years and learned most of what he now knows from his older brother.

"(Skating) is fun - you can do a lot of tricks," said Monteleone, who plans to continue skating and improve on his present technique. "I want to do this for a long time."

Addabbo hailed the skateboard park as a safe place for teenagers to skateboard and practice their inline skating. He said the new park will also encourage skaters to stop using Forest Park property, such as the performance bandshell's benches, to perform skating tricks.

Benepe, who was joined by Parks Borough Commissioner Richard Murphy and Forest Park Administrator Debby Kuha, said there are other similar skating facilities in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.

"These are good kids," he said looking at the 10 skaters. "If you use this safely, it will make it easier for us to make this a permanent part of your community."

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156

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