- Associated Press - Sunday, July 30, 2017

CROZET, Va. (AP) - A bored teenager will always find something to do - either constructive or destructive. But with a newly planned skate park in Crozet, young skaters soon could have a place of their own creation.

When a group of young teens was caught setting small fires and painting graffiti at the former location of Barnes Lumber a few months ago, police and fire investigators didn’t see malicious future criminals. Instead, they saw a need to help young people develop a sense of community.

Not wanting the teenagers to go through the court system, Albemarle County police Officer Andy Gluba instead sought a way to help the young skaters build their own skate park in Crozet. Little did he know, Sk8Crozet - a group dedicated to making Crozet a more skater-friendly place - also was interested in creating a park.

“Kids will be kids, and it’s not that these kids are being rewarded for doing something wrong by getting a skate park; it’s more of a reframing of their mindset,” Gluba said. “If you want something like a skate park, do things the right way and there are people in the community willing to support you.”

Adriane Neumeister founded Sk8Crozet after her husband, Daniel, passed away in 2010 and she found a logo he had drawn for the idea of the group. In 2014, she met with the Claudius Crozet Park Board of Directors about the idea of fundraising for a paved path around the park to give both short and long board riders a safe place to skate.

The board liked the idea, and the path, about an eighth-of-a-mile-long, was finished in 2015. With the path growing in popularity, Neumeister turned her sights to creating a park where skaters, young and old, could have a sense of community. When she heard Gluba was interested in the same thing, the wheels started turning.

“It’ll have an incredible impact, as far as giving kids a place that’s safe and not on the streets, which are becoming busier and busier,” said Neumeister. “We’re so thankful for all the help. It’s huge and it means a lot.”

“Dan would be happy it’s coming to life.”

The future skate park - which will be a non-permanent pilot park at first - will be located in a small square of the parking lot by the back basketball court in Crozet Park. Along with Sk8Crozet, Gluba also reached out to the park’s board to see if the skate park could be put there because of its central location.

For the time being, the park will consist of small, easily moved components - such as rails and other small obstacles. By gathering data about who uses the park and how they use it, the park’s board can determine whether a permanent park would be appropriate, according to the board’s president, Kim Guenther.

“By permanent, it doesn’t mean it would be at Crozet Park,” Guenther said. “I don’t know if we have room. It could be somewhere else in Crozet. But this pilot will allow us to just do a little data gathering.”

The skate park components also will need to be removable because Crozet Park hosts three large events every year: the Crozet Arts and Crafts Festival twice a year and the annual Fourth of July celebration.

Duane Brown, the skateboard and snowboard buyer for Freestyle in Charlottesville, got involved with the project through Sk8Crozet and wanted to help create a place for local skaters. Brown, a lifelong skateboarder, said a skate park creates a sense of community for skaters, who are often chased away.

“Skateboarding is a funny thing,” Brown said. “A lot of skateboarding happens out on the street, but we’re always looking for a place we can get together and skateboard - and not be chased by the police.”

Right now, he said, it’s important that the young skaters spread the word and try to get more people involved.

While Gluba and the police department, as well as Sk8Crozet and Crozet Park officials are on board and ready to help, the project can’t really get off the ground without volunteers and donated supplies.

The groups hope to have the skate park ready for skaters by September.

Anyone who would like to volunteer or make a donation of money or supplies should email Neumeister at [email protected] More information also can be found on the group’s Facebook page.

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