Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Skateboarding [Print without images]

Friday, December 30, 2011
Updated: January 2, 1:17 PM ET
Manhattan's LES park to be rebuilt


Manhattan's LES park, the go-to meet-up spot for Big Apple locals and host of events such as Red Bull Manny Mania, will get a facelift starting in March of 2012.

Skateboarders of New York City determined to skate more in 2012 will get some help keeping that New Year's resolution this spring when one of Manhattan's most popular skateparks gets a six-figure facelift.

Thanks to 5boro Skateboards founder Steve Rodriguez, who won a Gamechangers grant from Architecture for Humanity and Nike, the Coleman Oval skatepark -- better known as the Lower East Side, or LES park -- will be transformed from a subpar littering of prefabricated obstacles to a full-blown concrete skate plaza.

According to the Gamechangers website, the grant will finance a rebuild of the park from the ground up, including a new concrete slab, "innovative obstacles for participants of all ages and skill levels," and skateable park benches and tables.

Rodriguez told ESPN that the total square footage of the skatepark will increase by 25 percent, taking over an underused dog run and what he described as an existing seating area with no seats.

5boro's Steve Rodriguez at the Brooklyn Banks, before the legendary spot was closed in 2010.

The go-to meet-up spot for Big Apple locals, the skatepark has also hosted Red Bull Manny Mania and Go Skateboarding Day events. Rodriguez called it "an awesome location," explaining that it's close to all the major subways and the Staten Island ferry, and surrounded by dozens of popular street spots. But, as it stands, the skatepark's obstacles leave something to be desired. "Right now, it's the worst skatepark in New York in the best location," he said.

That will all change this March, when work crews with California Skateparks break ground on the revamp. The new park -- which will be free, open to the public, and unsupervised -- is expected to be open and ready to ride on May 1.

Rodriguez collaborated with California Skateparks to design the new park, with input from locals. The city's HAO/Holm Architecture Office will head up the redesign of surrounding, non-skateable elements, having just beat out eight other firms competing for the gig.

"The best part is that it's under the Manhattan Bridge; it's loud there," Rodriguez said. "Nobody can complain that the skaters are being too loud. It's the perfect spot."

Previous Gamechangers recipients include Skateistan's Oliver Percovich, who created Afghanistan's first and only skateboarding school, located in Kabul.