Lower Ninth Ward skate park closed just weeks after opening

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 9, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 10 at 6:05 AM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

In September, Rapper Lil Wayne was on hand for the celebrated opening of the city's first skate park in the Lower Ninth Ward, but now the skate park is closed.

"They'd have more people skating, if they had more skate parks," said skater, Geonne Janeau watching his peers show off their skills.

The clatter of skateboards echoed through a Gentilly underpass on Tuesday night. The location is where skaters like Janeau like to pass the time but it is not an official skate park. Attempts have been made to open "official" ones in the city but most have failed.

Last fall, Red Bull donated a skate park on a barge to the City of New Orleans. A year later, it sits dismantled and waiting for a permanent home.

Three weeks ago, rapper Lil Wayne with several corporate partners opened the Truk Stop skate board park in the Lower Ninth Ward which at any given time can accommodate 15 to 20 kids but right now it sits empty

"They've actually broken in here four or five times and not to steal anything, they just want to skate," said Ward "Mac" McClendon who runs the Lower Ninth Ward Village. He says finding the money to insure and staff the in-door facility has been challenging. Once it officially opens, McClendon believes the skate park will help keep kids off the street.

"I think its the biggest thing we've done for the kids since Katrina. We blame our kids for everything, we haven't given them nothing," said McClendon

"Its really important to have designated place for skateboarding, its long overdue," said 

Joey O'Mahoney who works with the non-profit group, Transitional Spaces. O'Mahoney says so many skate parks have failed because of bad planning. He points to the latest Lower Ninth Ward project as an example.

"Being on private property it really complicates insurance issues where as insuring a skate park on NORD property is really like just adding a basketball park," said O'Mahoney.

While skaters wait for their first official skate board park to open permanently, one 15-year-old says skate parks are more then just a place to kick back.

"It'll stop crime on the streets, if they've got kids watching skaters learning new stuff and new tricks," said Janeau.

In response to our story, Ryan Berni spokesman for the City of New Orleans issued this statement about the Red Bull skate park:

"[It] is currently slated for the Lafitte Greenway. Because of the time line of that project, we are considering other locations as options so that we can open a skate park sometime next year."

As for the Lower Ninth Ward in-door skate park, an official grand opening is now slated for October 27th.

 

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