The staff of the Lynchburg Parks and Recreation Department was dismayed to learn of the youth on youth violence that occurred in Younger Park earlier this week.  Sometimes, despite doing all the right things— like investing in thoughtful park upgrades, building durable relationships with key stakeholders, neighbors and neighborhood watch groups; and providing timely maintenance and upkeep, tragic situations can still occur.  Younger Park is a beautiful park that was renovated in 2010 and it is where a new community heirloom orchard is slated to be built in the near future (depending upon funding). So, it is disappointing to have an otherwise tranquil oasis constructed for the enjoyment of families marred by an event such as this.
It’s unfortunate that two young people were injured and that another will potentially lose his freedom, but some solace may be gained if this incident is used to shine a light on dealing with troubled youth in Lynchburg. By gathering a group of like-minded individuals together to draw positive inspiration from the learned lessons of this event, I believe it could be a catalyst for a positive change.  The City needs many more productive opportunities, inspired mentoring and positive outlets for teens and young adults.  This is not an issue that one department or agency can rectify.  It will take a community effort.   We are conscious of the need to promptly address this issue and are formulating an inter-disciplinary team to insure immediate safety and on-going deterrents to criminal behavior.  In the days to come it is our intention to work with the neighborhood to seek solutions, as well as with public safety and others to address these issues.
Our parks are a valuable asset to the Lynchburg community and to the thousands of park visitors who come to recreate, enjoy nature, picnic, and participate in other positive activities.  We are committed to insuring that everyone can continue to feel safe and welcomed at all of our parks. In the meantime, we pray for a speedy recovery for the two young people who were injured in this incident.