Commissioners approved an ordinance last week meant to curb young skateboarders in downtown Wendell.
Police Chief Bill Carter tweaked the town’s current ordinance that wasn’t specific enough to allow officers to “spot-enforce” the rules in certain parts of town and not others, he said.
The new ordinance outlaws bicycling, skateboarding, roller-skating and similar activities on the sidewalks of downtown. Bicycles will still be allowed on downtown streets, in accordance with state law.
Carter noted in his presentation to commissioners that new bike racks downtown should also give bicyclists a place to park that won’t intrude on storefronts or sidewalks.
Skateboards and the like will not be allowed on the streets downtown under the new ordinance.
The ordinance defines downtown as the area between Wendell Boulevard and Second Street and between Pine and Cypress streets.
Skateboarding and other activities will still be allowed on sidewalks outside the newly defined downtown area.
The revised ordinance also lays out what the process will be should a resident skateboards or roller-skates on downtown’s sidewalks.
First-time offenders under 16 have their mode of transportation confiscated after a verbal warning. A parent or guardian will have to retrieve it from police and will have a chance to learn about the ordinance, Carter said.
Offenders over 16 will just get the verbal warning on their first offense.
Any offenses thereafter will result a citation, which requires a $50 payment to the town. The skateboard, bicycle or skates will be confiscated and held until the fine is paid.
Carter said the purpose of the verbal warning is to help educate residents about the ordinance.
Letting people know of the new rule is going to be an important part of clearing downtown sidewalks from recreational vehicles, he said.
In Carter’s report to commissioners, he said his department deals with regular complaints about skateboarders and that “there have been numerous near-misses between persons on skateboards with other pedestrians or vehicles.”
Carter’s report also noted that skateboarding sometimes caused property damage as well, although it did not specify how significant that damage is.