Plea for skateboard site in Taneytown set aside

January 16, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

The Taneytown City Council has indefinitely tabled plans for a skate park that would serve the city's youth, but the matter is far from resolved.

Councilman Henry C. Heine Jr. said he feels that officials did not fully investigate the proposal, which was brought before the council by teen-age skateboarders who were looking for a place to practice.

"For all the work those kids had done, I don't think it [the proposal] was given the proper attention," Mr. Heine said. "I just don't think we did enough to give an answer."

Mr. Heine was recuperating from reconstructive surgery on his ankle and missed the meeting last Monday when the council voted to drop the issue until it could find adequate insurance.

The council reached its decision two months after five youths presented the skate park proposal.

The youths, David Hess, Daniel Harmon, Joe Dougherty, Spencer Yelton and Brian Sanders, had discussed the history of the sport with the council and identified possible sites for an area where they would construct their own ramps and maintain them, using money donated by parents and civic organizations.

They also gave officials a petition signed by 300 residents supporting their efforts.

The council discussed the proposal during meetings and work sessions, but officials said they were not prepared to give the skateboarders definite answers until they learned more about insurance and liability.

Officials said they contacted several insurance agencies, but most didn't cover skateboarding, and the one that did cost too much.

Mr. Heine contends that officials could have investigated the insurance issue more fully.

"They didn't try the big companies," he said. "If you're looking to cover something like this, you don't go to auto insurers and ask if they cover skateboarding."

He said large companies, such as Nationwide and Prudential, might be more likely to insure recreational facilities.

Mr. Heine also said that city law only prohibits skateboarding on certain streets, such as Baltimore, Frederick and York streets, which are the busiest in Taneytown.

But many streets are not named in the ordinance, so skateboarders, while they are discouraged from doing so, are not prohibited from skating in some areas.

"I suppose you could prohibit skateboarding all over town, and you may be immune to litigation," Mr. Heine said. "But the way that law is written now, those kids could go skate on some of the side streets, and they'd be perfectly legal."

The boys asked Mr. Heine for his support after the September council meeting, and he gave them suggestions that he felt would strengthen their proposal.

When Frederick Alderman Jon F. Kreissig told the council about the failure of his city's skate park, Mr. Heine continued to support the idea of trying a facility.

"In my opinion, we should let those kids go skate, let them give it a try," Mr. Heine said. He said that a paved area near the playground and ball fields on George Street would make a

perfect test site.

Although Mayor Henry I. Reindollar Jr. and the council said they were sympathetic to the request, the risk of municipal liability and inadequate insurance, as well as lack of full-time supervision, ultimately worked against the project.

David, Daniel and Joe, who attended the meeting Monday, remain determined to see the project through.

Mr. Heine said he would do some investigating of his own.

"Since I have some time, I think I'll look into some insurance myself," Mr. Heine said. "They tabled the issue because of insurance. If I can find the insurance, then we're back on the

agenda again."

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