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One result of the Grandin Village flap is wider awareness of the Roanoke facility’s decline.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Among the teenagers crowding the sidewalk in Roanoke’s Grandin Village this summer, at times hassling pedestrians, are displaced skateboarders: refugees from a now wholly inadequate skateboard park in nearby Wasena.
The Grandin Village neighborhood doesn’t want to drive the youths away with hostile acts — one suggestion, piping in classical music. Oh, the inhumanity. Concerned residents and business owners are talking, rather, about how to set some behavioral boundaries that will keep the village a comfortable place for all its habitués.
A line that should be set in concrete, though, is one the skaters are most likely to cross: no skateboarding on sidewalks. It is just too dangerous for pedestrians.
The city needs a new skateboard park — which is included in Roanoke’s comprehensive plan. Skaters can expect to see one built in the next five years, the city’s parks and rec manager says.
Not so long a wait for a municipal amenity, but a long time for today’s teenagers. They might be grown up and gone.
Perhaps, as in Bedford County, a deep-pocketed enthusiast will step forward to hurry the pace.
Meanwhile, the park the city opened in the late 1990s — after years of pleading and fundraising — has grown worn and lost its appeal. Its main attraction, a half-pipe, had to be removed a year ago. And the park has long been a popular target of vandals, making it expensive to maintain.
Its location, beneath the Wasena Bridge, puts it out of sight and out of mind except among skaters — not the most politically valued demographic in a valley that skews older.
But a highly visible one, once they take to the sidewalks and streets, looking for a place they can indulge their passion.
Roanoke has learned a lot about skateboard parks since its reluctant entry into the field.
It has learned to build the ramps, bowls and other features with materials that last, like concrete.
It has learned, we hope, to build the park in a highly visible location to discourage vandalism and other illegal activity.
And it has learned skateboarding is not a fad. It is a legitimate sport that is around to stay.
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