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Hempstead Village skate park to be open by late summer

Deputy Assembly Speaker Earlene Hooper, right, meets William

Deputy Assembly Speaker Earlene Hooper, right, meets William Newallo on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, at Kennedy Memorial Park, where a new skate park named in his son's honor will be built. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Jarred Newallo imagined a skate park in Hempstead Village where kids could safely practice their tricks and form a close-knit community around the sport.

But Newallo was killed in a sanitation truck crash in 2014 at the age of 25, before the avid skateboarder’s dream could become a reality at Kennedy Memorial Park, where he’d worked as a summer camp counselor for years.

After his death, village officials and his family took up the cause. The skate park, which will be named for him, is expected to open in late summer.

“He’s the one that started this whole ball rolling,” said George Sandas, superintendent for the village’s parks and recreation department. “It’s just too bad he wasn’t around to see it.”

Skateboarders often use parking garages or the steps and railings of businesses in the village. The skate park will have benches, rails, curbs and small jumps outside Kennedy Park, where the volleyball court is currently located. The volleyball court will be moved to another area of the park.

“We want to get the kids off the streets,” Sandas said.

The skate park will cost about $300,000. Half the funds are expected to come from the state, following lobbying by Deputy Assembly Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), and the village will foot the other half through its contingency funds and a separate payment from Plainview-based Renaissance Downtowns, which is the developer for the village’s downtown revitalization project.

Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. said he expected work to begin on the skate park in mid- to late spring, after bids have gone out.

Newallo and his sister, Tara Newallo, grew up at Kennedy Memorial Park, where their father, William Newallo, has worked in the parks and recreation department since 1982. Wearing his signature baseball caps, Vans sneakers and toting a blue skateboard shaped like a foot, Newallo worked as a camp counselor there for six summers and organized skateboarding clinics and DJ’d break-dancing sessions for his young charges. He also worked as an EMT for the village.

“You can’t walk in this building and not see him,” said Liz Rosario, the park’s summer camp director, referring to the recreation center in the park.

In 2014, Newallo was working on the back of one Hempstead Town sanitation truck when it collided with a second one in East Meadow. He suffered “crushing injuries” in the crash and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“The Sanitation workers across our area are every day heroes who work very hard at a difficult task,” Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino said in a statement last week. “Jarred Newallo was a caring and conscientious person who embodied the very best in public service.”

Tara Newallo and her father said Newallo would have been surprised by the legacy he left in the village. More than two years after his death, his friends still visit his grave site and post remembrances on his Facebook profile. They said he brought the local skateboarding community closer together.

“I’m really proud of what he became,” William Newallo said.

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