Panel eyes fees for skaters

Revenue would help pay for repairs to Marine Park downtown

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2003

The city's Skateboard Task Force is considering a skaters' fee to help offset the costs of repairing wear and tear to Marine Park.

The task force will discuss a fee, skating code of conduct and the city's skating ordinance at a 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, meeting in Room 224 of City Hall, said Kristi West, who manages the Zach Gordon Youth Center.

The fee would apply to anyone who skates in Marine Park downtown.

Task Force members presented a draft code of conduct to the Juneau Assembly Committee of the Whole on Monday. Some tenets of the code include not skating around the Fisherman's Memorial out of respect, allowing pedestrians the right of way and skating in control to the best of one's ability.

Skateboarder Kevin Elliott, 17, suggested a small user's fee after Assembly member Randy Wanamaker asked how skaters could remedy the wear and tear to city property caused by skateboarders.

A fee is a small price to pay compared to being fined or having a skateboard confiscated, Elliott said. The fine for violating a no-skating zone is $25, Juneau Police Sgt. Dave Campbell said. Police have confiscated skateboards from repeat offenders, he said.

Elliott said he got the idea for a fee while talking to his father, Steven, who said users of city boat ramps pay a fee to offset maintenance costs.

Skateboarders and in-line skaters are restricted to parts of Marine Park if they choose to skate downtown, according to the city ordinance.

The problem with the ordinance has been legal interpretation, West said. Skaters have been carrying copies of the ordinance in case they're stopped by police. But the ordinance's language is confusing in terms of what areas are allowed for skating and some skaters have been ticketed erroneously, she said.

The park's reconstruction, completed this past summer, added to the confusion about permitted areas because a bus stop that once served as a boundary marker was removed, West said.

West hopes the task force can work with the city's law department to have the ordinance written in plain language and posted on signs.

The ordinance, 72.10.140 of the city code, prohibits skateboarding around the Fisherman's Memorial and in the library parking garage. It also prohibits skating within six feet of the garage when a ship is moored at the Steamship Dock. When a ship is not moored, skating is allowed within the six feet.

In July, the Assembly considered banning skateboarding in Marine Park from May through September. Instead, Mayor Sally Smith called for a Skateboard Task Force. The group, composed of skateboarders, business owners and cruise ship industry representatives, recommended allowing skating in Marine Park except when a ship is moored.

Skateboarders can skate for free at the Pipeline skate park in the Mendenhall Valley, but some prefer the street, where skateboarding originated, Elliott said. He compared street skating to a blank canvas on which an artist can be creative.

The Pipeline, though, because it is a limited space, restricts the lines and tricks for skaters, he said. Some teenagers don't have transportation to the Pipeline, he added.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at

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