Photos & Story by Charlie Samuels
It was the late 1970’s. I was 15 and in love for the first time with a magic device of artistic expression — my G&S Fibreflex skateboard. Sometimes I’d lay my cheek on the blacktop and marvel at my translucent red “Road Rider 4” urethane wheels with sealed precision bearings. I skated alone in the Rockland Cemetery across the street from my house in Sparkill, NY, just twenty minutes from New York City. I was psyched when I found several diverse kids in the nearby Hudson River villages of Grand View and Nyack who shared my passion.
We loved skating on the basketball and tennis courts of Nyack’s Memorial Park. But when we saw pictures of skateboard parks in our Bible – Skateboarder Magazine – we dreampt of having our own right there. The setting is visually stunning: on the Hudson River with a view of the Tappan Zee Bridge. A few of us lobbied the powers-that-be and failed. Then, in 2010 Sarah Anderson created the “Nyack Needs A Skatepark” Facebook page. Last month, December 11 was the last push.
I live 160 miles away from Nyack now, but I got to its Village Hall early. Sarah was already there, double checking her Mac-to-projector presentation, adrenaline flowing. Sarah, a New York City public school teacher and mother of two, is not a skater but her husband, Tim, is, and she is entrenched in the lifestyle.
Skaters began filling the Village Hall, lining up their boards at the entrance while politicians waited and joked around. The atmosphere was loose but slightly nervous in anticipation of what the proposed design would look and, of course, whether the Mayor and the village trustees would approve it. Sarah launched her presentation masterfully and won unanimous approval. Construction is slated to begin when the ground thaws.
The skateboard park is a dream come true for myself and our original crew. Skatepark designer Kanten Russell laid out a state-of-the-art cement and brick park with what looks like a mini ramp that echoes the Tappan Zee Bridge. Skateparks are often built where no one but skaters would dare go, but this skatepark will be one of the first sights you’ll see as you drive into Memorial Park…. respect.
But Nyack may benefit more than us skaters. Nyackers have long been proud of their community’s economic and racial diversity. The new park will only enhance that reputation as the park will draw skaters and more with contests, events, and photo and film shoots. Then there is the growing popularity of skate tourism.
Nyack really did need a skatepark. Thank you Sarah!
Charlie Samuels has photographed skaters for The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, New York, Thrasher, Burton, Vans, and Supreme. He will soon launch a kickstarter campaign to raise finishing funds for his feature documentary Virgin Blacktop about his Rockland County NY skate crew.