Words by Matt Kruszelnicki
Yup, its finally here. The long awaited remodeling of New York’s infamous “fatkid spot” is completed- a brand new 16,000 square foot concrete beauty, Golconda Playground Skatepark. Located at Gold & Nassau streets in Brooklyn, it sits under the BQE just beside the onramp to the manhattan bridge. Complete with banks, ledges, stone and brick elements, mini pool, hubbas, pyramids, manual pads, stairs and grass gap- its got something for everyone. Already swarming with local skaters and neighborly spectators, this park truly is a blessing to the unused lot and the underdeveloped neighborhood itself.
Originally, the spot was a parking lot flatground sanctuary for skaters during the rain. FatKid Spot or ‘Dill Spot’ consisted of benches and two pancake manual pads that were connected by a long ride-on rail, where the low overpass provided shelter from the elements. Over the years, skaters have brought over skateable trash, debris, leftover ramps etc. Similarly to the BQE DIY spot, sometimes the city would turn a blind eye to additions and sometimes they’d tear some down or ticket perpetrators- a rather interesting relationship with the city that involved much push & pull over the years at many similar spots. Skateparks don’t just appear out of thin air, and there are many bureaucratic hurdles involved with the process for these projects to come to fruition.
The project itself doesn’t belong to the city, but because of the above highway the property belongs to the NY State Department of Transportation. As part of their overall overpass rehabilitation budget of 150 Million, the DOT allotted about 3.5 mil for the mitigation and restoration of Golconda park, that would include handball and basketball courts, new floor and perimeter fencing, repaired playground and of course the skatepark. There are already dense state codes in play with any building and also involve many laws from working with City Parks and Recreation Dept. If labor, concrete and freedom to build were the only factors, the park would have been done in a matter of months. This project was much stricter, as city skatepark building and design is still considered new and unascertained territory.
Since breaking ground in January 2015, there were at least 3-4 state inspectors onsite everyday, along with a third-party engineering firm to monitor inspections of the build progress. Static laws slowed the build and with constant supervision, awaited approvals, disprovals and skeptical second opinions it seemed like every week there was another battle hindering progress- giving little leeway for positive and proactive transgression. Not to mention legally having to halt everything during unsafe weather temperatures for material stability and labor, often for a few months at a time during winter!
Steve Rodriguez has been heavily involved with most of all the city’s skateparks, and joined the Golconda project over 3 years ago, working with the state to redesign and plan the park. Constantly pushing and pulling back and forth with the city trying to keep them happy, while keeping our (skaters) best interests in mind- Steve has been a point person, consultant and in other words diplomat for city skatepark projects, someone who effectively bridges the gap between suits & skaters on a large scale. Thank you, we know it hasn’t been easy!
The build contract came to Quentin Sprague at WhoSkates and Independent Shotcrete, who also built Bronx Park in 2008, Astoria in 2010 and many other parks across the country. Originally from Maine, WhoSkates is a skatepark company certified for city and state projects, and Quentin brought together a great team of builders over the years to work on this park including Mark Wojton, Mark Goddard, William Weiss, Tom ‘TZ’ Martyn, Sloan Palder, Mike Flint. Big thanks to everyone involved onsite, the labor crew from El Salvador and to Rampage Skateshop in CT for supplying most of the steel for the parks coping!
The park is now open and in full swing, already seeing locals and lurkers congregating daily. Its always nice overhearing peoples stoke, comments of excitement, gratitude and respect from people living nearby or commuting skaters- even from kids who’ve never skated and are now intrigued and empowered to start in a safer environment. This park is already positively welcomed by the neighborhood and will surely build its own tight community of self-governing and protective locals. To everyone else casually bantering in the skatepark with comments like “its about fucking time, took them long enough” or “They could have made this obstacle better, why do this and not this?” Well, now you know. Go there, skate it, appreciate it, pay your respects and clean up your trash- after all it is another victory and stronghold for the skateboard community here in New York City.