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They’re gleaming the Gowanus

The Brooklyn Paper

Brooklyn skateboard punks may get a place of their own under a new proposal to turn a long-neglected Boerum Hill park into a haven for ’boarders.

The plan would transform the lightly used Thomas Greene Playground, which is on Douglass Street between Third Avenue and Nevins Street, into a destination for kids who currently practice their airborne tricks on benches, handrails, wide steps and even flower planters.

“Kids love to skate and there could be a place that is better for them than the streets,” said Jo Anne Simon, a member of Friends of Douglass/Greene Park, which wants the park — an overgrown and underused play place on the fringes of an industrial area — to have a new bathroom, more playground equipment and a small skate ramp or two.

The park prettification would cost approximately $4 million, according to estimates provided to the group by the Parks Department.

“Our goal is to bring people into the park and give them choices of [activities],” said Simon, who plans to line up funding from local officials before bringing the plan to Community Board 6 and the Parks Department.

One local concrete surfer, Jose Portes, said that all he needs are a few flower planters to double as ledges for his airborne tricks.

“There are a lot of skaters here, but nowhere to skate without worrying that your board is going to shoot out into traffic,” said Portes, who freely admits that he has more than a little skateboard wheel wax in the game.

Portes and a partner, Michelle Sauer, are opening Smith Street’s first skate shop and cafe next week, replacing an organic-food mart near Bergen Street.

The veteran ’boarder said that the hottest neighborhood skate place now is a decrepit flowerpot on the corner of Union and Bond streets, barely an ollie — a “jump,” in skate lingo — from the rush of traffic.

“If a new park is designed right it can [make skating] safer for the kids and for everyone else who shares the public space,” he said.

Phil Abramson, a spokesman for the city’s Parks Department, said officials would be “open to reviewing any proposals.”

So far, the prospects look good.

Once a street sport with a punky image that relegated it to deserted parking lots and homemade half-pipes, city officials now see ’boarding as the new roller-skating. In 2001, Parks built Brooklyn’s first skate park within Owls Head Park in Bay Ridge. The14,000-square-foot outdoor complex of wooden ramps, concrete bowls and metal handrails cost $650,000.

This year, Parks approved a plan to build another few skate ramps at J.J. Byrne Park on Fifth Avenue and Third Street in Park Slope as part of a rehab funded by developer Shaya Boymelgreen, whose Novo condo tower now looms over the park. Abramson said the city was also building another concrete playground at McCarren Park in Williamsburg.

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