Skateboard park in Annapolis Anne Arundel County: Proposal would be money well-spent to give kids a place to ride.

April 16, 1997

SOME ANNAPOLITANS will take issue with the suggestion of a nine-member panel that the city spend $132,000 to create a skateboarding park near Bates Middle School. Yet the recommendation makes sense.

Skateboarding, so popular with today's young, baggy-pants-wearing generation, irks many grown-ups who associate it with anarchy. Nearly a year ago, Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins tried to push legislation that would have banned skating altogether.

But city aldermen rejected that decree. Instead, they set a $50 fine to punish people who "ride on or use any unmotorized wheeled vehicle in a negligent manner on any public street, alley, sidewalk or way in the city of Annapolis." It was left up to police officers to decide what constituted "negligent manner."

If Annapolis authorities want a more constructive way to move skateboarders off streets and plazas, and one that didn't imply such a waste of police time, they should designate places in non-residential areas where skateboarding is allowed. A skateboarding park near Bates Middle School could be one such possibility, particularly since it already is an area favored by skateboarders.

The advisory committee also recommended that the Hopkins administration commit $25,000 in this year's capital improvement budget as seed money to design the facility.

We agree with Alderman M. Theresa DeGraff, chairwoman of the council's public safety committee, that it is a "realistic" proposal that would encourage contributions from the private sector.

"Not only will this skateboard park be utilized by the children in the city, it will also be used by children from the county," Ms. DeGraff said. "It's a huge plus for people who consider skateboarding a sport. I'm really excited."

We urge Mayor Hopkins and other politicians to overcome their distaste toward skateboarding. Young people in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County need places where they can hang out; the overrun shopping malls and fast-food restaurants can attest to that. Skateboarding may be objectionable to some, but even more corrosive for the community are kids who get in trouble because they have no place to go and nothing to do.

Pub Date: 4/16/97

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