NORFOLK, Va. - Before lunch on Monday morning, Trey Hill gets in a good skate session before the afternoon heat.
"Skateboarding has changed my life. I met best friends through it; traveled the world for it. It is the best thing that's happened to me," said Hill.
He has been on the deck for the past 18 years. For the past year, he has been skating at an old abandoned and blighted industrial site near Harbor Park along Water Street.
"During the pandemic, it was the place to go," he said.
With all the city skate parks closed due to COVID-19, the unsanctioned build-it-yourself site was grinding.
"The place was a safe haven for the skate community. We gathered here and met new people here," said Hill. "We all had masks on sometimes; it was the only place to go. Sometimes 30 people could be here."
This go-to place for the local skating community will soon look very different.
The City of Norfolk will soon break ground on an open green space-style park next to the Elizabeth River Trail.
The project has a price tag of nearly $1 million, which will be funded by a combination of city funds and a grant from the Virginia Brownfields Restoration and Economic Redevelopment Assistance Fund. Construction should be finished this fall.
"It is sad to see it go," said Hill." I remember my first place to skate, and I have seen a lot of kids come here to make their first memories."