Union City resident and skateboarding enthusiast Pete Marrero, who helped town officials plan the park, said that before the park opened, skateboarders in Union City would often be stopped by police. The goal of the park is to provide a place where skateboarders could practice their moves.
"Skateboarding is considered a crime around here," Marrero said. "You get chased out of everywhere."
He also said that it is about time his hometown had a skate park.
"We are trailing behind by far," he said, "but it is a step in the right direction, and I am very grateful to the mayor and Commissioner [Christopher] Irizarry."
Marrero said that in the past, Union City residents commonly lobbied for basketball courts, but not skate parks.
"You had people lobbying for basketball courts, and basketball courts in this town just turned into places where people could do drugs," he said. "We have to really emphasize the fact that we're going to need security guards here."
Marrero said that he heard that the town plans on providing security. He also said that he is happy with the way the park turned out.
"The layout, as you can see, is the best we could have done with the space we have," said Marrero.
Planning a team The skate park contains two large ramps for airborne tricks and a few short rails. It also shares space with two basketball courts, and Marrero said that a third court was removed to make room for the ramps.
"I am happy to say the ramps that were provided were actually better than the ones I had expected," said Marrero. He also said that because the ramps are weatherproof, they will need very little maintenance.
Union City resident Saro Tegrarian, who passed up the chance to turn pro years ago, said that he had also lobbied for the park and was glad to see it finished.
He said that he currently heads Union City's only skateboard team, which is made up of seven local skaters age 13 to 25. He said it is sponsored by Sneaker Hub on Bergenline Avenue.
"It is the skate shop team," said Tegrarian. "Hardcore skate shops normally have teams."
He also said that with the help of owner Joel Loconte, he is going to plan special skateboarding events.
"We are going to be organizing events here, having contests, demos, things like that," said Tegrarian. He said that he is not sure which other local teams might be interested in participating.
He also mentioned that competing is not the drive for the team.
"The goal for the team is to hopefully, eventually, influence [the members] to maybe further a career in skateboarding, get involved with the business, or at least, the bottom line is, be responsible," said Tegrarian. "A lot of these kids, they're from broken families, their parents are not there for them, and we're trying to be role models for them. Ultimately, that's the bottom line. Whether they become professional skaters or not, that's the least of the concern. The most important thing is as long as they grow up to be responsible citizens."