Janesville33.9°

Ordinance would curb boarders

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Ann Fiore
December 7, 2007
— Fifteen years ago, Dave Burkett posted “no skateboarding” signs around the One Parker Place properties he manages in downtown Janesville.

For his trouble, he said, his building has received $20,000 to $50,000 in damage from skateboarders, whose boards have scuffed and chipped the stonework.


“They don’t pay any attention to you,” Burkett said of skateboarders. “The police don’t pay any attention to you. We need an ordinance.”


Burkett and Dave Johnson, general manager of The Janesville Gazette, are among downtown businesspeople seeking an ordinance banning skateboarding downtown.


The city council will hold a public hearing on the ordinance Monday.


Bliss Communications, which publishes The Janesville Gazette, has posted signs prohibiting skateboarding for at least five years, Johnson said. But the damage to benches, walls and shrubs continues.


One metal railing has been taken down, replaced and taken down again. Johnson said a few skateboarders explained the railing’s removal to him, saying it kept them from jumping farther.


Johnson knows only a minority of skateboarders damage property.


“My experience here is awful with them,” he said.


If the council approves the ordinance, a $10 to $20 penalty would be charged to first-time violators, with $25 to $50 for subsequent violations.


Police now use various laws and educational efforts to try to curtail violations related to skateboarding, such as trespassing. A skateboarding ordinance would give police another tool, Police Chief Neil Mahan said.


If the council approves it, Mahan said, police likely would do more education than enforcement—at least at first.


“If they’re caught vandalizing, that’s a whole different story,” Mahan said. “But if it’s just a kid who’s essentially trespassing, do we want to have a zero-tolerance policy for that? Probably not.”


Johnson said this is the second time he and the Downtown Development Alliance have suggested limits on skateboarding downtown. The last proposal didn’t earn enough support to get on the council’s agenda, he said.


Council President George Brunner and council member Craig DeGarmo are sponsoring the current ordinance.


Will an ordinance keep skateboarders out of the downtown?


Aaron Raufman, a Craig High School senior, said fear of a fine might keep some away. The effectiveness depends on how strict police will be, he said.


But Raufman also hopes the ordinance encourages support for a May 24 fund-raiser for a proposed outdoor skate park, which he’s organizing with senior Mark Pieragostini.


“This should give the council a little more initiative to help with the skate park function,” Raufman said.


If You Go

The Janesville City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed ordinance regulating skateboarding in Janesville when it meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.


The ordinance

Under Janesville’s proposed skateboarding ordinance:


-- Skateboarding would be banned everywhere downtown—streets, sidewalks and public and private property—except for the bike trail.


State law already prohibits skating on city streets.


-- Skateboarding would not be allowed on private property without the owner’s permission.


-- Skateboarding would be permitted on bike trails and sidewalks outside the downtown as long as skateboarders yielded to pedestrians and other users.


The ordinance defines the downtown area as bordered by Centerway on the north, West Racine Street on the south, the Five Points intersection on the west and Atwood Avenue on the east.



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