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Skaters hope to land trick of getting new skate park

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Skate Park Harassment

Cody Mullins jumps over a table at the old Bristol Tennessee skate park in this 2018 file photo.

BRISTOL, Tenn. – After reading about the Bristol, Tennessee City Council's plan to build a new skate park, lifelong skater and Bristol resident George Linke knew that he wanted to bring the voice of the skater community to the table and get them involved in the process. That led him to create the Skate Bristol page on Facebook.

"When I first read the article about them even looking at a site to replace the old one, I was like, well, I could definitely help kind of facilitate a community voice for this," Linke said. "It's a good, positive opportunity for young people in our area to have a good, positive first interaction with city government."

Linke, who developed a 20-ton, press-and-mold system to make skateboard decks for his engineering thesis in college, explained that as a teen, he was a regular skater at the old skate park.

He described Skate Bristol as, "A bunch of adults trying to be the people we needed whenever we went for the first skate park."

Rebecca Reeves, whose 9-year-old son Witten started skating in January, got involved with Skate Bristol after she reached out to Terry Napier, the Bristol, Tennessee director of parks and recreation when the city first announced that they were closing the old Bristol skate park.

"When I first started this journey, I didn't know the amount of other skate parents and people in the community that wanted to be a part of this," Reeves said. "It's been great to see that there are so many others that want to see the skate park succeed and that want to see it grow into something beautiful and great for everybody in the community."

Witten described the first time he ever went to a skate park and talked about how surprised he was when his mom, Rebecca Reeves, told him after one of his skating lessons that she was working with Skate Bristol to get the city to build a new skate park.

"I remember my first time going to a skate park. I was there alone, and then a bunch of teenagers started to come over. I was scared. I finally went out there, and turns out they were very friendly," Witten said. "I was getting done with my lessons, and she came up, 'Hey, um, we're gonna try to make a new skate park in Bristol,' And I was shocked."

According to Linke, the city has identified three possible locations for the new skate park.

"There are three potential sites right now. The city owns property on Columbia Street near Tennessee High School. There's DeFriece Park, which is not too far from the old park," Linke said. "They're also exploring the potential of a super rec center, which would be like, with a pool and playground and skate park and that would be near the Rotary baseball fields."

There will be a temporary skate park set up at the old tennis courts at Rooster Front Park.

In an effort to get young skaters involved in Skate Bristol, Linke explained that they will be holding a logo design competition in the near future.

"You have to be under the age of 18. You either have to be part of the Virginia school district, John Battle school district, Tennessee High school district, East High School district, and West Ridge High school district," Linke said.

The winners at the elementary and middle school level will be presented with photos autographed by Tony Hawk and Jason Ellis, and the winners at the high school level will win Steve-O autographed skateboard decks.

For those interested in participating or following Skate Bristol's progress, they can do so by joining the Facebook group, as well as their TikTok, which will be up and running soon.

Email: jmancera@bristolnews.com

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