Lynchburg skating community wants city to take over popular skate park

Save our Skatepark LYH will hold rally Thursday

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - In its heyday you had to take a ticket to get in. Now it's closed. The skateboarding community in Lynchburg wants the city to take ownership of a popular skate park.

Jeff Gary owner of the Scene 3 in Lynchburg, remembers when the Amazement Square Museum first opened the Rotary Centennial Riverfront Skate Park in 2008. 

“When the park first opened it was actually indoors first because they didn't have the space ready outside. So they put all the ramps inside the building of Amazement Square. It was so crowded that you had to take a number in order to skate,” Gary said. 

Gary and two men, who traveled two hours from Harrisonburg to Lynchburg, say the sport is still alive. 

"I know people from all ages. From little kids to guys in their 40s that skate and do the same type of thing drive to places to skate a park,” Jesse Hammer, skateboarder, said. 

One thing that's disappointed the skating community is that the skate park’s gates have been closed for 10 months. 

"It’s upsetting because there's a perfectly good skate park down the street with a fence around it. And you have kids desperate to skateboard somewhere and it’s just teasing them,” Gary said.

The Save our Skatepark LYH (Lynchburg) group has filed a request to Amazement Square to give skaters more hours. More than 400 people have signed their petition asking the city to now manage the park. 

“We feel that the skate park has been characterized for adolescent boys and they're kind of misbehaved. I think any community park will have acts of vandalism. It's a shame that happens. But it’s one of just a few, Lauren Dianich, co-chairman of Save our Skatepark LYH, said.

WSLS spoke with Mort Sajadian, president and CEO of Amazement Square who says they don't believe in having the park open during school hours. 

He tells WSLS vandalism discouraged them from opening the park again. He also says he's not opposed to the city taking ownership, but it will require an “amicable transaction process.” Sajadian hopes to meet with the city in mid-November. Mayor Joan Foster says city council will meet on Nov. 14 to discuss this further. 

As skaters and parents wait to see what agreement could be made, they say, for certain, opening the park will give kids a positive outlet.  
"All the studies show that kids are supposed to get more exercise. They're not supposed to be indoors or playing video games. And yet this amazing park is closed all the time," Dianich said.

Save our Skatepark LYH has planned a rally on Oct. 26th to show Lynchburg, "It's time for it to be run by the city for all to use everyday."

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