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'Tennis City' Dedicates Skateboard Park Removed from Courts

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Copyright 2013 Richmond Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)
September 15, 2013 Sunday
State Edition
METRO; Pg. B-12
423 words
Richmond dedicates skateboard facility;
It replaces venue set up on park's tennis courts
MICHAEL PAUL WILLIAMS

After thanking everyone involved for the city's first public skateboard park, Bailey Kelliher had one final instruction before the ribbon-cutting:

"Everybody raise your hand, look at the person next to you and give a high-five," she said, before Mayor Dwight C. Jones joined young skateboarders in dedicating the new facility at Carter Jones Park in Woodland Heights.

"Richmond's always been a tennis city," Jones said, "but skateboarding is an emerging activity that's going to happen whether we're on board or not."

Skateboarders, city officials and enough of the surrounding community were on board to create a concrete island with quarter pipes, a fly box, a handrail, a kicker and other ramps.

Jones said the skateboard facility, in tandem with a new tennis complex in Westover Hills, is in keeping with the city's promotion of healthy lifestyles.

"It's a sport, too," said Norman C. Merrifield, director of Richmond's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. "What brings people together more than sports?"

Some of that coming-together has already happened in Woodland Heights. The city-built facility, which users have dubbed the 28th Street Skatespot-RVA, replaces a metal-and-wood venue erected by skateboarders on tennis courts at the southwest corner of the park.

"This one's way better," said 10-year-old Jake Jenigen of Bon Air.

The old metal skateboard venue grated on the nerves of neighbors.

"It was unbelievably loud," said nearby resident Greg Hough. "My neighbors referred to it as the 'boogeyman at the back door,'" because the noise sounded like someone attempting a break-in, he said.

Last year, city officials sent the skateboarders a notice to remove their ramps, or the city would do so.

Hough says the skateboard park now embodies a park on the upswing, with wholesome bustle.

Kelliher, a recent Virginia Commonwealth University graduate employed by Fraser Design Associates, worked on the design of the park with Artisan Skateparks of Kitty Hawk, N.C.

She spoke Saturday on behalf of Bernie McGrew and Kenny Shafer, who could not attend the dedication. The skateboarding duo worked closely with the city's parks department to make the park a reality.

"This is something the skateboarders are going to take pride in," said Kelliher, who does a little skateboarding herself. "It's a place they can call their own."

mwilliams@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6815

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Illustration: Photos

Copyright © 2013, The Richmond Times-Dispatch and may not be republished without permission. E-mail library@timesdispatch.com

September 17, 2013

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