Panel urges $132,000 park for Annapolis skateboarders


Annapolis needs a $132,000 park to get skateboarders off the streets, a nine-member panel told the city council last night.

The skating advisory committee, formed last year after city youths and their parents protested a measure that would have prohibited skating in nonresidential areas, recommended building a 16,500-square-foot skate park near Bates Middle School.

"You have to basically think about what will benefit our teen-agers," said Alderman M. Theresa DeGraff, chairwoman of the city's Public Safety Committee.

"They've been kicked around for a while with no place to call home. This will get them off our streets, and we're giving them a home."

More than a dozen skateboarders showed up at the meeting to lend their support to the proposal.

The committee found that skateboarding is becoming more popular in the area and that there is no place teen-agers can freely skate without complaints from residents or business owners. The committee suggested the Bates location because skateboarders already use the area as their "de facto skate park."

The committee recommended that the administration commit $25,000 as seed money to design the facility in this year's capital improvement program budget.

Some officials are not sure the city can afford the project, especially since the administration is proposing at least five major projects in the next few years to build roads, sewer lines and make renovations that are expected to cost millions of dollars.

But DeGraff said the committee is "realistic," adding that the members do not expect the city to pay for much of the work, but hope that most of the money can be raised through a public-private partnership involving city and county governments, business contributions, corporate donors and fund-raisers.

"Not only will this skateboard park be utilized by the children in the city, it will also be used by children from the county," DeGraff said. "It's a huge plus for people who consider skateboarding a sport. I'm really excited."

DeGraff said this is the closest the city has come in years to seriously considering building a skate park. "It's been my project for as long as I remember," she said.

Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins proposed the skating ban last year after residents and police officers complained about skateboarders riding through city streets and damaging property.

Skateboarders and their parents lobbied hard for construction of a skate park, and DeGraff requested that a committee be created to study the idea.

The council rejected Hopkins' bill and adopted a measure forbidding a person to "ride on or use any nonmotorized wheeled vehicle in a negligent manner on any public street, alley, sidewalk or way in the city of Annapolis."

Aldermen set a $50 fine for violators and allowed police officers to determine what is meant by the term "negligent."

Pub Date: 4/15/97

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