Compromise sought on limiting skateboarding in village

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:17

    WARWICK-The dialogue has started between officials and residents concerned with skateboarding and inline skating in the village. Residents told the village board they do not want skateboarding prohibited in the village. The board is considering a proposal to limit skateboarding and inline skating to certain areas of the village, and prohibit it on some main streets. No streets were mentioned specifically, but the main purpose of the law is safety, according to the board. The village has set up a committee, which includes both high school and middle school kids along with adults, to investigate whether closing certain streets to skateboarders is a viable option. The committee met last week, with about a dozen people attending. They plan to meet again on Oct. 28. According to the village's attorney, Michael Meth, the village is allowed to make laws that affect the health, safety, and well-being of residents. Because of the growth in the area-which has increased both the number of motorists on village streets as well as pedestrians-there has been an increase in situations concerning skateboarders and skaters. The village has the responsibility to protect residents, Meth said. Parents who spoke to the board said skateboarding is both a means of transportation and a sport for their kids. Village resident Mike O'Brien said he strongly opposed any ban on the streets surrounding his Clinton Avenue neighborhood. "One of my greatest joys as a kid was skateboarding," O'Brien said. "One of my joys now is watching my kids skateboard. They get exercise, they are interacting. I don't want to herd them to the park." Regulating conduct, O'Brien added, is a double edged sword. He also said he would help with the committee. Pat Walsh, whose 16-year-old son is a skateboard enthusiast, said she has been extremely concerned with safety. But she sees how much her son loves the sport and thinks parents and kids have to take responsibility. "At some point, put some responsibility on kids and parents," Walsh said. "We have to allow our youth to explore." Another parent, Kathleen Shannon, said that she is happy to see her son, Dennis, ride his board. "There is an obesity epidemic," said Shannon. "My son and his friends are out there doing something." And it is their means of transportation. "Kids use their boards for transportation," said Shannon. "To pen them up in a park, that's not what they all want to do." Bob Linguanti of Bellvale said the board and the committee should look at the behavior, more than the sport. "Focus the law on the things that cause the problem, not the activity," Linguanti said. "Look at the issues that are bad, like they can't run on their skateboard in the middle of the street. Focus on enforcement." This is just the first step, the fact-finding step, in molding a law. After getting recommendations, the board will present a law to the public for input before