Schenectady County

Officials delay Scotia skateboarding ban

Skateboarders can catch air for at least a little while longer in Scotia.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Skateboarders can catch air for at least a little while longer in Scotia.

Village officials are holding off on expanding existing restrictions to ban all skateboarding in the village because of a concern that doing so may not resolve the problem of vandalism. The existing ordinance currently just bans skateboarding on village sidewalks and streets but it doesn’t mention village property.

Mayor Kris Kastberg said the village has a problem with youths hanging out in the central business district, riding the rail in the village’s green or flipping down the stairs. There is nothing in the existing law that allows police to confiscate the skateboards of repeat offenders, according to Kastberg.

However, the main offenders are minors, and authorities would not be able to press criminal charges against them anyway. “You don’t want to adopt something that’s not enforceable,” he said.

Trustee Cathy Gatta said Police Chief Pete Frisoni told her the main problem is skateboarders damaging property. She has a problem with such a broad law banning skateboarding everywhere — noting that youths can also damage property with their bikes and some people use skateboards as a mode of transportation.

“People do use them for going from point A to point B,” she said.

Kastberg said there haven’t been similar complaints with bicyclists and unfortunately, there cannot be any ambiguity in the law.

“If you don’t make a law black and white and leave room for gray area, then everybody turns into a lawyer and you eliminate the possibility of the park superintendent saying: ‘That’s against the law. Stop or I’m calling the cops.’ ”

The village has had a problem with skateboard damage at its tennis courts and at Freedom Park, where the wheels caused ruts in a new dance floor stage that had to be replaced with a blacktop area for dancing.

He likened the law to a similar one in the village prohibiting people from putting up basketball backboards on their street.

Trustee Tom Neals said there is also an issue with skateboarders riding in the middle of the lane and refusing to move.

Kastberg said he was also tired of hearing complaints that the village was harassing skateboarders. “Enforcing the law is not harassment,” he said.

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