‘Save Brooklyn Banks’ heats up at local community board meeting

Since late 2020, a grassroots movement has emerged to bring back the downtown skate park that has been closed for construction since 2010.

A not-for-profit organization, Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan, presented their vision plan to restore Brooklyn Banks, a beacon for the skate community since 1972, as one component of a larger initiative to restore the nine acres around the Brooklyn Bridge. The presentation was made to the Manhattan Community Board 3 Parks Committee last Thursday evening.

Image credit: Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan

Brooklyn Banks was closed in 2010 due to construction work in and around the Brooklyn Bridge. However, 12 years later, the downtown skate park remains closed with no real timeline or promise for its return upon completion of the work.

The resurgence of activism around reopening Brooklyn Banks started in late 2020 at a Manhattan Community Board 1 meeting, which had strong advocacy from the skate community in the form of hours-long testimony.

At Thursday’s meeting, Rosa Chang from Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan presented the organization’s vision for restoring both Brooklyn Banks and creating more equitable open space in the nine acres around the Brooklyn Bridge.

Image credit: Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan

At the meeting, Chang, while not familiar with the history of Brooklyn Banks until she started advocating for the entirety of this project, has since become an ally for restoring this “touchstone of the skate community” in her commentary to the CB3 Parks Committee.

Commentary from one community board member cautioned about the proposed plan leading to gentrification, citing the High Line as an example.

Manhattan Community Board 3 has a resolution calling for the reinstatement of the Brooklyn Banks skate park and dugout spaces that will be voted on at the board’s full board meeting on Tuesday, March 22 at PS20 on Essex St between East Houston and Stanton. This is an in-person meeting. To sign up to speak during the public session on March 22, fill out this form: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/manhattancb3/calendar/public-session-speaker-form.page

A draft of the resolution presented at the committee meeting “urges the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), the Parks Department, and elected officials to work together with the community towards the common goal of returning and converting this space under the Brooklyn Bridge back to the public…This includes reinstating the Brooklyn Banks skate park…”

Resolutions, once passed at full board, will get sent to elected officials.

Construction in the area is not expected to end until 2024, according to a DOT spokesperson.

To learn more about Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan: https://brooklynbridgemanhattan.org/

Watch the Brooklyn Bridge Manhattan presentation on restoring Brooklyn Banks here: ​​https://youtu.be/JdczVMiqy9A?t=6378

Check out the presentation slides: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/manhattancb3/downloads/calendar/2022/Brooklyn%20Bridge%20Manhattan-2022.pdf 

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