Janesville59.1°

Ordinance would put brakes on skateboarding

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Ann Fiore
November 27, 2007
— Skateboarders who use Janesville’s downtown as a skate park might have to take their ollies somewhere else.

A proposed ordinance would put the brakes on skateboarding on all city streets—per state law—and on downtown sidewalks and public property, except for the bike trail.


Skateboarding on private property would be prohibited without the owner’s permission.


The downtown area defined in the ordinance is bordered roughly by Centerway on the north and West Racine Street on the south. The east and west borders tend to zigzag, reaching east to Atwood Avenue and as far west as the Five Points intersection.


The ordinance was introduced Monday to the city council, which scheduled a Dec. 10 public hearing.


Downtown business owners have discussed such an ordinance for several years. The latest proposal came from the Downtown Development Alliance, which asked the council to consider an ordinance, said council President George Brunner.


What spurred it was a “concern in the downtown area for the safety of pedestrians and to curtail the damage to property,” Brunner said.


Three properties—1 Parker Place, M&I Bank and Bliss Communications, which publishes The Janesville Gazette—have estimated damage from skateboards at more than $10,000 each. About $4,000 in damage has been done to city property, the parks department estimates.


Council member Craig DeGarmo, who sponsored the ordinance with Brunner, said he’s seen the scuffs and chips on retaining walls, steps, benches and railings.


“You go into some of these places, and it’s not hard to see,” DeGarmo said. “I can’t blame downtown business owners for wanting it.”


Skateboarding has soared in popularity since 1996. About 9.7 million skateboarders enjoyed the sport in 2006, more than double the 4.7 million 10 years earlier, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. The vast majority of skateboarders are younger than 18.


Roger Streich, who is raising funds to build an outdoor skate park in Palmer Park, said he supports an ordinance.


“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “An ordinance is going to mean that kids are going to have a place to do their sport, like any other sport.”


The proposed ordinance would permit skateboarding on sidewalks outside the downtown and on bike trails, as long as skateboarders yield to pedestrians.


Streich said fund raising for the skate park been inching along. So far, the Janesville Outdoor Skate Park Committee has collected about $20,000 of the approximately $400,000 Streich says is needed.


However, Streich has met with Craig High School students who have proposed a May 24 fund-raiser as a community service project. The students are working with agencies to bring a band to the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds, Streich said.


Enacting an ordinance actually might help fund raising, he said.


“I think it’s going to require the community to say, ‘We’ve got to get behind this thing,’” Streich said.


“These kids have just as much right to enjoy this sport as other kids have to enjoy their particular sport.”


On Monday, Streich told the council that skateboarders will need another place to go until the skate park is built.


One option is The Pipe Skate Park, 3025 Woodlane Drive, which offers an indoor place to get air and do ollies, a trick involving smacking the back of the board against the ground.


To donate

Donations are needed to build an outdoor skate park in Palmer Park, said Roger Streich, who is organizing the fund raising. Donations may be sent to Janesville Outdoor Skate Park, P.O. Box 41, Janesville, WI 53547-0041.



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