Mayor grows impatient with skateboarders Manchester regulations on sport ignored, he says


Manchester Mayor Elmer C. Lippy is losing his patience with the town's skateboarding teens.

Although he has tried to work with the skateboarders to find them a safe, suitable place for them to practice their sport, Lippy said, they have ignored town laws addressing skateboarding.

"I think if I were younger I'd enjoy it myself, but we're getting complaints from citizens that skateboarders are right on Main Street where they don't belong," Lippy said.

"It's enough to to be irritating, particularly to a person like myself who has spent literally hours trying to help skateboarders get a place."

To emphasize that he is serious about the infractions, Lippy ordered town police to enforce the regulations strictly and confiscate skateboards of repeat offenders.

Laws prohibit skateboarding and roller-skating in Manchester's business district along or near Main Street.

But what really frustrates Lippy is the recent vandalism that he attributes to skateboarders.

"There have been a couple cases of flagrant vandalism and nonresponsibility on the part of skateboarders," he said.

Lippy said the teens have moved concrete parking space barriers in lots at the town hall and the adjacent Trinity United Church of Christ to create more challenging skateboarding runs.

"Rather than just a nice long, sloping run, they're more interested in jumps and barriers," he said.

Since Lippy's directive, the town's Police Department has seized four skateboards and informed parents of the owners. Police returned the boards to the violators, along with a copy of the town's skateboarding laws.

Those actions seemed to have solved the immediate problem, said Manchester police Officer Joseph Lettau.

"Things are pretty well under control," Lettau said. "The kids are more or less abiding by the rules and skating in their neighborhoods."

But for Lippy, the skateboard issue isn't resolved. He plans to continue working to establish a skateboarding facility for Manchester youths.

He is focusing his efforts on a town-owned park off Route 27 and plans to bring up the matter with the Town Council.

"This park isn't used much, except for some love trysts, and it wasn't designed for that," Lippy said.

The mayor plans to form a committee of skateboarders and their parents to discuss ways to allow the teens to practice their sport.

Mary Jo Rupp, whose two teen-age sons used to skateboard in Manchester, said she appreciates Lippy's efforts. Rupp and other parents of skateboarders approached the mayor last year about the absence of skateboarding areas in Manchester and throughout the county.

She said Lippy's concerns about vandalism are valid but that most skateboarders are law-abiding teens.

Frequently, Rupp said, a group of skateboarders will find a suitable place for their sport, but it soon becomes overcrowded.

"They try to find places where they won't bother people, but word gets out, and soon there's 25 people there," Rupp said.

"My concern is they need a safe place to go."

Pub Date: 9/11/96

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