5050 Skate Park Staten Island is the only indoor skate park in NYC, family owned and operated, and much more than just a skatepark. Interview and photos of owner/founder/builder Ed 5050, by Aaron Nardi.

Aaron: What’s going on with Staten Island lately? It’s coming up like a new WBBK?
Ed 5050: Staten Island, aka Shaolin is in a mini boom, especially on the North Shore Area – St George, Tompkinsville, and my neighborhood of Stapleton. Small brands like 5050 Skate park, Cobra Sun Studio, Richmond Hood, Flagship Brewery, Techbox, Makerspace and restaurants like Beso, 120 Bay Cafe(AKA Cargo), Craft House and Pier 76 are just some of the new hip businesses that are drawing some serious crowds. Investment companies are noticing the change people have been waiting for is finally happening. Our businesses bring people from all over NYC to the North Shore of Staten Island. For example, 5050 Skate park has over 4,000 registered attendees from 14 counties and 32 States.

We Staten Islander’s hate being compared to Brooklyn. We don’t want our island to be like Brooklyn, and if we did we would move there. Most Staten Islander’s left Brooklyn because they couldn’t find parking.

You grew up here and still live here? What’s life like here?
Life on Staten is good currently. I am a short drive to Manhattan, and a beautiful boat ride away if I don’t feel like sitting in BQE Traffic. I feel like I am on the forefront of something that is about to blow up, but I fear that Staten Island is not going to know how to handle it.

Ferry ride

They are building a carbon copy of the London Eye Ferris wheel, some wack chain Malls, and a huge number of housing units. All the development going on right now is for people to spend more money, which is good for NYC, but how is that really helping the families and people who own homes here? Who is looking out for the kids? No one is talking about how all these new families are going to move into this already over populated area and there are no good playgrounds, and no permanent sports facilities for them. Where are all these kids going to hang out? The Mall?

What’s it like living in the biggest city in the USA, but also kind of separate from the city rush.
I like how I can party in Manhattan and go back to my block and it’s real chill here, everyone knows each other. I know all my neighbor’s names. Can’t really say that if you live in Manhattan. Staten is real connected, we still have farms and horses here. Turkeys and peacocks run freely on the South Shore.

Why start a skate park?
I never thought we would open an indoor skate park. I thought that was impossible. Then the former NYC Parks Dept. Commissioner had the Benjamin Soto Memorial Skate park bulldozed, because they got some bad press. It completely backfired on them. We opened 5050 and the Commissioner got fired a little bit after.

Short answer, we started our own skate park because our city agencies failed to provide one for the public. The kids on Staten Island needed a place to express their extreme sport and we had the know-how and means to provide them with a safe outlet, so we did.

Describe 5050.
5050 Skate park is New York City’s only indoor skate park. We opened July 7th 2012. We are a hub for all Extreme Sports. We have a Summer Camp for kids that runs July through September, and in the winter we have special sessions for older dudes that still ride, every Thursday night. We call it “Old Man Night.”

I was going to ask a cliche question about if you knew Wu-Tang clan but they were actually at the skate park tonight. What was going on there?
Redman, Method Man, Street Life, and Hanz On just filmed their new video “Straight Gutta” at 5050 Skate park. It was cool to have someone I looked up to as a kid film his music video here. Redman and Method man really inspired us as kids and now it’s cool to work with them. Besides Red and Meth, Rik Cordero has filmed a music video here for Chris Miles, a young gun from Long Island, and Lil Wayne skates here from time to time.

So you grew up riding bmx and still do, how was the bmx scene in NYC in the 90s and 2000s?
I started in 1998 and fell in love with BMX. Back when I started, it used to be really tight niche. You knew everyone’s name that rode. Now I could be riding in my own neighborhood and not know who the
riders are.

I am really proud of the East Coast Scene though, they are on top of the game. It’s cool to see the Deadline BMX Crew killing it so much. It’s so crazy now compared to when I started. I just hope the sport can continue grow. I am here today in 2016 with a beautiful family, a nice house, and amazing skate park all because of BMX.

Would you say construction and design is a similar form of creative expression as bmx?
I really love that I can take some old Pallet Lumber and create amazing furniture with it. We also save all the waste plywood and rip them into 1-1/2’’ wide strips and make Desks and Bookcases by gluing and nailing the strips together. It was invented by Bart Bettencourt and Carlos Salgado.

What’s New York Design & Construction? What kind of projects do you do?
5050 Skate park is practically a non-profit without the title. The skate park doesn’t pay me. Construction is how I make a living. I own New York Design and Construction. We are a Carpentry Events company. We do work for Red Bull, The Hundreds, Governors Ball, DQM Vans, New Era, Sandbox Marketing, Animal Bikes, and many other cool brands. I think that is where I get my inspiration.

What’s some of the most fun, creative, coolest things you’ve built?
The DQM Vans Store with Michael Hurst is the coolest store I built. Craziest event, is a tie between Red Bull Trick or Treat with Josh Green in 2007, and one I just did in 2015, the Figure 8 Mini-drome with Oscar Chow.

That Red Bull circle track in the church and the newer figure 8 looked rad, how did that come together?
Oscar Chow from Red Bull put his job on the line to make that event happen. Oscar, Addison Zawada and Austin House and I worked really hard on it. Nobody else believed we could do it. We just met, planned for over a year to make it happen then we hired Addison to help us build. He killed it.

I’m always stoked when friends of mine turn their passions into a career, especially when it involves artistic expression. How’d you make that happen?
I really didn’t plan any of this. It naturally happened. Meeting all the right people at the right time, traveling, riding my bike. I think having a rough early childhood is what made me so hungry. Watching my Mom and Stepfather on drugs, seeing my Grandfather’s alcoholism, made me focus on BMX and working. My Stepfather dying when I was 15 years old forced me to become the man of the house instantly. Responsibility helped make me the person I am today.

Source: Varla Entertainment