Scotia skaters: Give us a park

All they want to do is skateboard.

All they want to do is skateboard.

Youths are expressing frustration with the village’s ordinance against skateboarding on village streets or sidewalks and the lack of a place to practice their passion.

This comes at a time when village officials are in the process of revising their code to prohibit skateboarding on any village property.

Gio Mazzone, 17, said he can’t count the number of times he has been stopped by police and had his skateboard taken away.

“They’ve been harassing me since I was 8 years old,” he said. “I was probably between 10 and 12 the first time I got my board confiscated.”

Mazzone pointed out that other activities such as in-line skating are also illegal under the ordinance.

“They don’t enforce the other things,” he said.

Skateboarder Zach Froehlich, 17, said not all police officers enforce the ordinance. He was not stopped during the summer on his way to and from his job at Collins Park.

The skateboarders always have to watch for the police. “We literally jump off the skateboard because they can’t legally take them unless you’re on it,” Froehlich said.

Ryan Curtin, 17, said skateboarders get bad reputations, but it is a sport just like soccer or football.

“People have the perception that all skateboarders are punks,” he said.

The skateboarders said there was an effort a few years ago to raise money for a skateboard park. “The money is nowhere to be seen,” Curtin said.

Froehlich said he believes skateboarders would be willing to sign waivers to skateboard in a place of their own. He suggested somewhere in the industrial park.

Mayor Kris Kastberg said he has not received any complaints from skateboarders about enforcement. Police officers use their discretion and have the ability to stop the youths if they are skating in traffic.

Kastberg has received complaints from people about youths skateboarding on the village green, which is right next to the municipal parking lot. Also, there have been issues with skateboarding on the tennis courts.

Kastberg does not know if there were witnesses, but village officials suspect that damage to the new dance floor at Freedom Park was caused by a skateboarder jumping off the stage onto the floor. This prompted the village to consider changing the code to prohibit skateboarding on all village property.

“It’s a couple of kids who are constant offenders,” he said.

Mazzone said he did not think skateboarders could have caused damage to the park. The board’s wheels will not leave those kind of marks, but bicycles would, he said.

Skateboarding was banned in the village because of safety concerns, according to Kastberg. Since there are no brakes on skateboards, the fear was that they would be unable to stop and fall in the line of traffic or crash into other pedestrians.

As for a skate park, Kastberg said the village was not involved in that effort, which was a joint project between Glenville and Schenectady County.

Village officials briefly studied the idea but were not sure if it was viable. Kastberg cited the fact that the town of Niskayuna closed its facility in September 2010 and sold it to the Baptist Church of Northville.

He believes the problem in Niskayuna was a lack of interest with only about 11 people attending on a regular basis.

Also, some youths did not follow the rules of wearing pads and helmets, there were problems with vandalism and graffiti, and there was also a cost to staff the park.

Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle said the idea was to put the skateboard park at Maalwyck Park. The project would have cost about $150,000 with $40,000 coming from the county. Koetzle wondered what the viability of a project would be now, given the tax cap and the fact that Niskayuna closed its facility.

“It is in the master plan still,” he said. “It’s just not on the list of projects because we don’t have the money.”

Scotia Police Chief Pete Frisoni has only been on the job since Sept. 5, so he said he could not comment as to whether the ordinance was being evenly enforced.

“I certainly haven’t received any complaints from anyone.”

Frisoni said he can empathize with the youths wanting their own place to skateboard but understands the intent of the ordinance.

“We’re trying to make things safe for the general public and the skateboarders and also minimize any damage that they may cause — not that all skateboarders go out and cause damage. As with anything else, there’s some people who cause problems.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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