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Rockaway skate park gets Addabbo’s approval

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Addabbo, joined by city Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Richard Murphy, praised the $600,000 project that will allow skateboarders, in-line skaters and BMX bicyclists to ditch park benches and the Forest Park Bandshell for the more favorable ramps, quarter pipes and half pipes at Rockaway Beach.

"This is a positive first step in beautifying parkland in the Rockaways," Addabbo said. "A person can literally be standing on the boardwalk and on one side see someone surfing and on the other see someone skateboarding."

Rockaway Beach's skateboarding park will have features such as steps and rails, curbs, seating and grinding rails. The park will also have ramps, quarter pipes, half pipes and platforms for skateboarders, in-line skaters and bicyclists to enjoy, Addabbo said.

The funds, which came from Addabbo's discretionary budget allocated to him and other council members, were used to draw up a project that incorporated input from architects, city officials and borough residents, Addabbo said.

"Our most sacred duty is to take care of kids, and part of that is making sure kids are healthy and develop lifetime habits of health and fitness," Benepe said. "Rockaway Beach Skate Park will be a safe, beautiful spot for young athletes to practice skateboarding and in-line skating."

Rockaway's skateboard park is just one of now four permanent skate parks in the city. The other three are the Millennium Skate Park in Brooklyn, Riverside Skate Park in Manhattan and Mullaly Skate Park in the Bronx.

Addabbo said he and other city and borough officials wanted to offer skateboarders in Queens an alternative to using Forest Park and other similar areas as places to practice. He said historical sites, like the bandshell, were slowly being destroyed because of activities by skateboarders and other sports enthusiasts.

As a result, more than 18 youngsters were able to critique city plans for the park during a meeting at Addabbo's district office in Howard Beach and offer up an alternative proposal incorporating suggestions on what type of attractions should be at the Rockaway park, the councilman said. The final product, therefore, was one that incorporated all levels of city government to make the skateboard area a true community park, Addabbo said.

"We just saved $600,000 because the Parks Department would have built a park that no one would have used," Addabbo said. "You should always have public input when putting in new parks."

Addabbo, who recently traded in his hat as head of the city's Parks Committee to instead head the Civil Service and Labor Committee, was also instrumental in helping to secure a $5,000 grant from the city Department of Youth and Community Development for a temporary skateboard park in Forest Park. The councilman said the two venues, which offer different facilities, could herald the introduction of skateboarding parks throughout Queens. "Hopefully, this is contagious," Addabbo said.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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