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Monday, October 8, 2012

Skate event highlights need to develop park in central Annandale

D.C. Roller Girls try out the ramps in the Annandale Fire Station parking lot.

Several skateboarders and community members came to a temporary “skate event” with portable ramps and ledges in Annandale Fire Station parking lot Saturday to show their support for the development of a skate plaza and park in a nearby vacant lot.

The portables were set up by American Inline, a company that provides summer camps and classes in skateboarding and other activities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Three members of the D.C. Roller Girls, a professional roller derby team, brought a little verve to the event, and Flippin Pizza made sure no one was hungry.

Mason Supervisor Penny Gross organized the skate event in response to an informal proposal put forth by several business leaders—and endorsed by the fire station, Annandale Chamber of Commerce, and other community groups—to provide a safe place for youths to hang out get some exercise. Gross says it could be more like a “skate spot,” rather than a full-blown skate park.

The county-owned site, between the fire station parking lot and the Annandale Christian Community for Action on Columbia Pike, has a derelict basketball court. It’s surrounded by trees, blocking visibility from the street.

“Kids need someplace to go,” says lifelong Annandale resident Glen Jedlicka, who owns the Gro-Getters landscaping supply business in Annandale. Having a park for them would “keep them focused and out of trouble.”

David Starr, the owner of Beanetics, who came up with the idea for creating a skate plaza in the vacant lot, called Gross’ plan for a temporary skate event “a very good, constructive idea.” He blames the low turnout on the long weekend and limited publicity. Gross says the fact that few skaters showed up won’t discourage her from pursuing the project.

“We want to see the county make an investment in Annandale,” Starr says. He envisions the park as more than just a skate spot. It would be a great place for a farmers market and other activities.

Starr vowed to follow up with Gross and others in the community to make the park a reality. “Kids need a safe place to skate where they won’t be chased away,” he says. Annandale skaters now either have to skate in parking lots, behind the Giant or Kmart, or get a ride to a skate park. The closest one is the Wakefield Skatepark.

“As a businessman, what depresses me is the lack of any significant investment in Annandale by the county,” Starr says. “This is a great opportunity that could have a positive impact for everyone, not just kids who skate.”
This vacant lot would make a great park.

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