Skateboarding in Taneytown CARROLL COUNTY

October 01, 1993

If Taneytown's officials don't want to be known as "dweebs" among the city's small community of skateboarders, they should be able to find a place where these boys and girls can do their 180-degree "switchfoot heel flips," "nose slides" and "nose grinds."

Taneytown's government seems to have a particular dislike for skateboarding. The sport was banned from the city for several years, but that absolute prohibition has since been rescinded. The current ordinance forbids skateboarders from streets and sidewalks. As a result, the only venues for skateboarding are parking lots and driveways, for which the participants need permission.

The recent decision to ban skaters -- as the youths like to call themselves -- from the Northwest Middle School parking lot shows unreasoned hostility to this benign sport. Without any evidence, Bronson Jones, the school's principal, blamed the youths for destroying several concrete benches outside the school. He also complained of wax residue the skaters leave on the curbs of the parking lot.

With their oversized shirts, baggy pants and Doc Marten high-top boots, Taneytown's skaters may not project the image of the proverbial Boy Scouts, but they hardly merit the disdain being heaped upon them. Five skaters took it upon themselves to become educated about town government so they could plead their case for skateboarding.

Traci Johnson of The Sun's Carroll County bureau quoted the youths as saying they would like a public skateboard park. They need an area about the size of a basketball court to build a series of ramps, steps and curbs, they say. They are preparing to present their request to Taneytown's council this month.

While building a skateboard bowl in a city park would certainly placate the youths, it is unnecessary. Most skaters have been satisfied with the town's concrete and asphalt parking lots. Why not designate a school parking lot that can be used after school hours? Give the youths responsibility for keeping it clean and orderly. If they don't, permission can be withdrawn.

The Taneytown council ought to be able work on behalf of these kids. If it does, the council will certainly deserve to be known as a bunch of "gnarly dudes."

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