Skateboarders say there's not enough facilities for their sport
Seven people have been charged in connection to the vandalism and property damage at Elmwood Park
The Roanoke City Police Department has had no choice but to add extra patrols at Elmwood Park since they discovered property damage.
The newly renovated multimillion dollar facility opened up less than a week ago and it's already been vandalized by some skateboarders and bikers.
According to police, seven people have been charged with violating city code this week.
Skateboarders in the area told WDBJ 7 that there aren’t adequate facilities in the area for them so use so they are left looking for places to skate on their own.
Wasena Skate Park is one area for them to use. However, they said it's not safe and the equipment is deteriorating.
"We want a place where it's okay,” said skateboarder Adrian Green.
When it comes to skating, they're left with very few choices.
"It's mostly the main topic when people come down here,” he said. “You know, people come out here, skate a bit then sit down and it's like now what?"
For years, skateboarders and even bikers have been asking the city of Roanoke for a new facility, but their wishes have yet to be granted.
Many feel they've been targeted by city leaders.
"The same child that is kicking a soccer ball, carrying a football or hitting a baseball goes home and grabs a skateboards and then hits the street or hits his ramps,” said Matt Whitcomb.
Whitcomb has single handedly formed the Roanoke Valley Skate Park Community Advisory Group.
While he doesn't agree with skaters misusing certain facilities, like Elmwood Park, for their own recreation, he understands why they do.
"When we have no facility, or no adequate facility, for them to express, try new tricks or to stretch their limits they are going to take it out on natural terrain,” said Whitcomb.
He said the layout of Elmwood Park is perfect for any skateboarder or biker.
However, skaters were surprised to hear that people were using the park as a place to skate.
They said there's a known respect in the community when it comes to skating but admit that some simply ignore it.
"Honestly I think that was a stupid thing to do on the skateboarders part because we respect when people have new things and stuff like that so we only skate older stuff,” said Green.
Roanoke City Parks and Recreation said it is considering building a new skate park, but there's no set timeline.
The town of Vinton is also considering building a park. Right now, there’s a plot of land they are considering using for the facility.
Vinton Town Manager Chris Lawrence said there's enough of a demand in the area to build a nice skate park, but they are still in the very early stages of discussion.
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