- The Washington Times - Friday, October 8, 2004

Arlington County youngsters will have their own place to “ollie” and “grind” their way to fun today when the area’s first concrete skate park officially opens.

“Our young people love skating — on sidewalks and unfortunately in the streets,” said Barbara Favola, chairwoman of the Arlington County Board. “We didn’t want to see that. We want to be a vibrant community. This was about keeping up with the times and serving the needs of all our residents.”

The skate park of undulating concrete and half-pipes in Powhatan Springs Park cost $2.4 million and was five years in the making.

Miss Favola said it is difficult to say whether the park will help curb increasing gang activity in the region.

“It’s another place for kids to go to have clean, supervised fun,” she said. “The demand for [the park] has far exceeded my expectations so far. It is being used a lot.”

The park, at 6020 Wilson Blvd., unofficially opened on Labor Day. The hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The daily entrance fee for residents is $4, and $6 for nonresidents.

Anne Wittenberg, a Web developer from Arlington, brought daughter Sarah, 9, and son Andrew, 6, to the park yesterday because their school was closed for parent-teacher conferences.

“It’s a fun and exciting place, and it’s a place where you can do something you cannot do anywhere else,” said Miss Wittenberg, 43.

However, she was concerned about some of the more experienced skaters dominating the park.

“Today is not bad because the older kids are in school,” she said. “But around 3 o’clock when school lets out, it gets crowded, and the beginners are in the way.”

Sarah disagreed, saying, “I’m not a beginner,” as she waited for pro skater Frank Hirata to finish performing.

Mr. Hirata, who is a design consultant, hopped on his board and performed an assortment of maneuvers, racing through the park’s bowls and ramps.

He marveled at the layout.

“You guys have a nice product,” Mr. Hirata said. “I help [design] skate parks throughout the country, and this one is top-notch.”

The park also was designed for in-line skaters.

“We wanted to create a park that had a special place in the heart of Arlington County,” said Toni Hubbard, director of the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation. “I think we’ve truly achieved our goal.”

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