Skateboarders have damaged Belleville’s new streetscape and at Monday’s [Oct. 4] meeting the City Council voted to hold a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to outlaw skateboarding and roller skating downtown.
The public hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at City Hall.
Mayor Richard Smith said there has been quite a bit of damage to streetscape features at the Fourth Street Square and in front of Century 21, where the cement benches have been chipped and the decorative walls marred.
“The damage at the Fourth Street Square … is really a shame,” said Mayor Pro Tem Rick Dawson.
He said the boards have been knocking edges off the sandstone benches and the wax put onto the rollers “stains the heck out of everything.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Dawson said he also has seen bicycle tread marks on the streetscape features and he has seen motorcycles parked on the Fourth Street Square, which he doesn’t like.
Department of Public Services Director Keith Boc said there is a cross-hatched area in the parking lot behind the square and that will be set off as a parking area for motorcycles. Signs are coming, he said.
He said he would like to see no skateboards, roller blades or motorized vehicles on the Fourth Street Square.
Boc had taken pictures of the damage and the council passed around the photos and then handed them to the audience to see.
Dawson urged people to go out and look for themselves because the pictures don’t do justice to the damage.
Boc said he has ordered signs for the square and once he has them they can enforce the no-skateboard rule.
“If they’re just sitting there with a skateboard, we can tell them to leave,” Boc said.
Resident Mike Renaud asked, “You can’t walk downtown with a skateboard?”
“Yes, you can walk,” Boc said, “but I’ll call the police when a group is sitting with skateboards in their hands.”
“You should be able to walk through the Fourth Street Square with a skateboard,” said Councilwoman Kim Tindall.
“We’re in the discussion part right now,” said Dawson. “This is just a start.” More discussion will take place on Oc. 18.
Former Mayor Tom Fielder said from the audience, “If it’s not vandalism, I don’t know what it is… The city should have a way to get damages.”
Mayor Smith said the plan is to have misdemeanor fines and damages.
Later, Belleville Police Chief Gene Taylor said that the misuse of skateboards in the city has been enforced in the past, with tickets written for skate boarding in the street, for example.
The ramp at the library has been a favorite of skateboarders for years and Reserve Police Officer Charles Syer has been employed by the library to police the ramp as well as other assignments.
The proposed ordinance prohibits roller skating and skateboards on all surfaces contained within the Main Street and South Street corridors.
Also, it will be illegal to roller skate or ride a skateboard on any bench, planter wall, retaining wall or other device not intended for pedestrian or vehicle traffic.
Those violating the ordinance could have their skateboards confiscated until they come to the police station with a parent or guardian. Or, the skateboard could be kept for evidence.
In other business at Monday’s 32-minute meeting, the council:
* Heard Councilwoman Tindall complain about people who don’t leave the intersections open when traffic is clogged up. She said she is frustrated and it does no good for her to be yelling out the window: “Don’t block the intersection!” She said she’d like to see drivers ticketed;
* Heard Chief Taylor reply that in a few days the congestion should be over
as the paving is completed and the second Main Street lane is reopened. Dawson commended Chief Taylor and those directing traffic for their work;
* Heard Boc say the plan is for the concrete pouring to be completed on Thursday;
* Heard Mayor Smith ask if the police
department needs more reserves. Chief Taylor said he has 15 reserves, and he can always use more good reserve officers, but he is short of regular officers. Taylor said the reserve officers have regular jobs and many are not available during the workday for volunteer policing; and
* Approved accounts payable of $154,150.94 including the following departmental purchases in excess of $500: to Council of Western Wayne dues of $3,407; to McCoig Materials, $639.25 for concrete for road repairs; and to Wise Tech., $617.89 for computer supplies/labor.