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Nyack mom leads push to build skateboard park

Sarah Anderson, of Nyack, stands in the spot

Sarah Anderson, of Nyack, stands in the spot where she's pushing for a new skate park to be constructed in Memorial Park in Nyack. (Feb. 25, 2013) Photo Credit: Angela Gaul

Sarah Anderson says Nyack needs a skateboard park.

Anderson, 37, a mother of two and the wife of an avid skateboarder, is behind the drive to get a skate park built in Memorial Park, which is undergoing a major overhaul.

"There's nowhere to go," said Anderson, citing the experience of her husband, an avid skateboarder, and others like him who must drive to Westchester County or New York City to find a dedicated skate park.

She will appear before the Village Board on Thursday to present a prospective design and evidence of what she says has been overwhelming public support.

The design, derived from consultation with professional skatepark designers, is modest in size and would be better termed a skate "plaza," a mostly flat, concrete area designed to mimic an ordinary civic plaza but equipped with enough sturdy benches and railings to engage skaters. The park also would be functional for ordinary park-goers, Anderson said.

She said her inspiration is a modest park in Gardena, Calif.

"You could walk by it and not necessarily know it was a skate plaza," Anderson said of her proposal. "There are benches; there are multifunctional aspects to it. But it's skateable."

It would take up about 4,500 square feet and be built in an area that has been earmarked, in the village's master plan, for a half-size basketball court, just to the east of a full-size court built last summer.

At that size, it would be on the small end of skate parks. Larger parks can range to 40,000 square feet and feature bowls, stairs, planters, half-pipes and other "obstacles."

But big is not necessarily better, especially when you have none.

"Size is a subjective thing when it comes to skate parks," said Joe Ondrek, 39, who lives on Depew Avenue and has been skateboarding most of his life. "You can have four obstacles laid out well in a small area and it can be fun for hours and hours and hours."

Having a spot in Nyack would mean "the world," he said, explaining that skateboarding tends to be a sport of camaraderie.

Ondrek said he has had chance meetings with fellow enthusiasts on the street, but it's a lot easier "when you have a place to go to, a home."

Using U.S. Census statistics, Anderson estimated the number of skateboarders in the combined Nyack villages at 800. Most of those are between ages 7 and 17, but Ondrek said he knows skaters in their 50s and sees no reason he won't be skating with his son, 6, who already is rolling around the family driveway on an old board he resurrected.

Anderson, a Brooklyn transplant, has been working on the skate park project during maternity leave from her job as a public school teacher in New York City. Through petitions (garnering more than 700 signatures) and a Facebook page (850 "likes"), she has become well-known around the village as the patron saint of skateboarders.

The Village Board may or may not be among those who advocate the plan, but right now the wheels are turning.

"The board is always delighted to hear new recreation opportunities for kids," Mayor Jen White said. "As long as we don't cost taxpayers excessive quantities of money, and it's a safe and reasonable thing to do with village property."

Perhaps the most attractive part of Anderson's proposal is the funding.

"We're not asking for any money," said Anderson, who estimated construction costs at $100,000, which would come through private donations.

"Hopefully," she said, "the board will get on board."

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