Opponents of Tony Hawk’s Brooklyn skate park plan protest to the tune of ‘Old MacDonald’

A group of Brooklyn residents plan to sing protest songs outside of an event featuring Tony Hawk on Thursday, calling on the pro skateboarder to pull the plug on a skate park planned for Mount Prospect Park.

Their protest anthem urges Hawk to move the project to a different site. The proposed skate park, which will be one of the largest on the East Coast, has Mayor Eric Adams’ backing and was designed by Hawk’s nonprofit, the Skatepark Project. But a coalition of Crown Heights and Prospect Heights residents opposes the park and argues that it needlessly reduces green space. Now, the residents said they’ll take their complaints to the Beacon Theater, where Hawk is co-starring in a show called “Darkslides and Secret Tapes.”

“We want them to hear us and we want them to learn from us,” said Hayley Gorenberg, who co-chairs the Friends of Mount Prospect Park group that opposes the skate park. “We definitely want fans of Tony Hawk – who’s supposed to be for the kids, for underserved communities and for the climate – to know that his foundation is leading the charge to pave over big pieces of green space in Brooklyn over community objections.”

She shared the protest song, which is set to the tune of “Old MacDonald Had A Farm”:

“Tony Hawk can save our park, save our green space now. Skatepark Project holds the key, stop the paving now. With your lobbyists here and your PR firm there, use your fame, change the game, show us you’re a hero. Tony Hawk can save our park, save our green space now.”

“Skatepark Project lead the way, stop the paving now. Plenty paved space here, already paved space there. Use your fame, change the game, be a climate hero. Tony Hawk can save our park, save our green space now.”

The opposition has flummoxed some skaters, who said skateboarding is a healthy, inclusive activity that rewards determination and creativity.

“They’re either totally against skateboarding or they don’t understand skateboarding,” said Aaron Aniton, 33, who volunteers with the Skatepark Project. “I don’t understand what their general issue is … a lot of the people complaining are 50 and older.”

A rendering of the skatepark planned for Mount Prospect Park. Organizers caution the project is still in the early stages.

The Skatepark Project

He criticized opponents for a “misinformation campaign” that included false claims about the skate park’s proposed location within Mount Prospect Park at a recent community input meeting that hundreds attended. He said that plans for the skate park’s location and design are still in the works.

Gorenberg countered that members of the Skatepark Project have spread false rumors that her group “hates skateboarding.” She said that they welcome the sport, so long as it does not eat up green space.

“That [rhetoric is] nasty and also a betrayal and it does not feed a healthy dynamic of deciding what we do with public space in Brooklyn,” Gorenberg said.

In a statement, Hawk said the Mount Prospect Park skate park plan was the result of years of work involving the Parks Department, mayor’s office and local residents. He said the Skatepark Project only got involved earlier this year.

“I encourage all parties involved to work together to keep the community a priority while balancing all interests,” Hawk said.

His show at the Beacon Theater will feature him reminiscing about his pioneering career with another skate innovator, Rodney Mullen.

Supporters of the skate park, which has been dubbed the Brooklyn Skate Garden, said it will be built in an underused section of the park. They said more trees will be planted as part of the project. They note that Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are nearby, making the neighborhoods some of Brooklyn’s greenest.

Aniton, an art director for City & State, said the city needs more high-quality skate parks for the sport, which is now an event at the Olympics.

He said much of the opposition “just comes down to people not understanding skateboarding, not understanding the impact it has on the youth.”

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