Skateboarding park shut down by Brooklyn Bridge construction set to reopen in Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan skate park set to reopen after more than a decade

NEW YORK -- A legendary skateboarding spot, known as Brooklyn Banks, will reopen in the coming weeks. 

More than a decade of work on the Brooklyn Bridge and its vaults in Lower Manhattan continue to divide the community, according to the people who live there. CBS2's Elijah Westbrook found out why this particular skate spot has taken the brunt of it all, and what city leaders promise next. 

If you've driven over the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side, you may not realize there are decades of skate park history. 

Brooklyn Banks was built in the 1970s before it was shut down for years of renovations. Skateboarders Westbrook spoke with say they hope it will reopen very soon. 

Skateboarder and Gotham Park Co-Founder Steve Rodriguez has been skating for about 30 years. He's well known in the Lower Manhattan community and part of the last few who experienced the Brooklyn Banks. 

"Kind of like a whole generation of New Yorkers missed out on this amazing space. The space has been closed since 2010," Rodriguez said. "Why it's such a huge impact is it kind of like scattered the whole neighborhood."

It was the spot -- uniquely nestled, literately, between the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan and the ramps leading up to the Brooklyn Bridge

"It's kind of like closing Washington Square Park. If you close that, where are those people going to meet?" said Rodriguez. 

The space is under construction, due to work on the Brooklyn Bridge, but its comeback will resurrect as Gotham Park. The green space will span from Park Row to South Street, as part of the city's $375 million effort to create more public space. 

"Gov. Hochul and I announced in our New New York Plan, we're going to create extraordinary new public spaces in all and every borough in this city," Mayor Eric Adams said on Jan. 26. 

While work is being done, it's soring the eye for some, as it's being used as a yard for project vehicles and machinery. 

Pace University senior Jonathan Becker has gathered more than 50,000 signature to protect the space. 

"A lot of people within the community and space thought that there was still an effort to be made and saw the value in trying to pursue this," Becker said. 

The opening of Gotham Park will take place in six stages, according to officials with Phase 1, including the opening of a similar version of the Brooklyn Banks. 

Community leaders envision the vaults will be converted for public use, adding, "Ideally, a New York Public Library combined with a Brooklyn Bridge Museum, housing a collection of documents and artifacts."

"I envision the community coming back together and using the space little by little," said Rodriguez. "There's so much going on here. There's truly this huge opportunity to make an amazing park for everyone."

Westbrook asked the city when the park will open and was told "Spring of 2023." Skateboard lovers say they hope that means very soon.

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