Task force discusses skateboard guidelines

Boarders hopeful Marine Park will not be declared off limits

Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The city Skateboard Task Force on Tuesday discussed establishing certain areas of Marine Park for skateboarding and setting up safety guidelines for those using the area.

The task force was established in July, when the Juneau Assembly tabled an ordinance that would have made the park off limits to skateboarders during the summer.

Marine Park is the last legal place to skateboard downtown.

Proponents of the ordinance argue that skateboarding in the area is a safety issue for pedestrians, and that skateboarders have damaged park benches and rails.

The task force is made up of skateboarders, business owners and representatives from the cruise ship industry. But only skateboarders and city officials showed up at the Tuesday meeting.

The group discussed establishing and posting a code of conduct for skateboarders using the area. The recommendations to be sent to the Assembly likely would include prohibiting the use of skateboards on park benches and rails and giving pedestrians the right-of-way.

Task force member Kristi West of the Juneau Parks and Recreation department asked: "Are these things the skateboarders could really follow? "

Kevin Elliott, a 17-year-old local skateboarder, said using park benches and rails to do skateboarding tricks is something local skateboarders will have to give up.

The group also floated a variety of ideas for establishing certain times the park would be open for skating and certain areas of the park where skateboarding would always be allowed.

"It's not that people are using that area all the time," Elliott said. "Maybe we can work it out to where we rope it off and have some rails stored somewhere and have a skate time at certain times, and we can work that into the cruise ship schedule."

But Jack Marchant, 28, a local skater, said skateboarders should be able to use the area when cruise ships are docked.

"What we really want to get away from is them trying to make it off limits every time a boat is in port," he said.

Marchant also posed the idea of building a skate park downtown.

"Even if we do build another skate park, I don't think we should give up Marine Park," said Mark Landvik, 24, a local skater who helped build a skate park in the Mendenhall Valley.

Tim Ackerman, a Port of Juneau security officer at Marine Park, said he's monitored the area and noted that most of the skaters don't jeopardize pedestrians' safety or damage city property.

"I don't have a problem with them transiting the area," Ackerman said. "When they are on their skateboards going down the dock paralleling the ships they're transiting the area. They're not doing stunts or anything on the dock."

He said any ordinance established by the Assembly needs to be posted clearly for those using the area. He also noted that crew members and passengers off the cruise ships also use the area for skating and biking.

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