The Battle for Tompkins Square Park: Skateboarders vs. Artificial Turf

New York Times: For skateboarders, the rectangle of asphalt in Tompkins Square Park is a sanctuary, an open space in the densely populated East Village where they converge not only to learn new skills but to forge long-lasting friendships.

For nearly three decades, the unofficial skate park — there are no ramps and handrails, so all levels are welcome — has been a slice of the “real New York,” said Andreas Marinos, 20, who has made the park his second home for about six years.

But now change may be coming to this corner of Manhattan — in the form of artificial turf.

The Department of Parks and Recreation is planning to lay down turf to accommodate hundreds of children who play organized softball and baseball, causing the displacement of the skateboarders and touching on questions about what sports, and groups, are valued in ever-wealthier Lower Manhattan.

The Parks Department says it must prioritize “youth sports,” but the skateboarders argue that their sport should not be given short shrift. They are now circulating a petition, asking that Tompkins Square Park be left as is. Since last month, more than 30,000 people have signed it. Read More>>