SCOTIA — Skateboarding is now legal on certain village streets after lawmakers on Wednesday approved a law repealing a yearslong ban on the activity after a pair of friends petitioned lawmakers to make the change.
Under the new law, approved in a 4-1 vote, a blanket ban on skateboarding has been repealed, and new requirements barring aggressive skateboarding and skating along certain roadways with high traffic have been put in place.
Trustee Joseph Rizzo was the lone dissenting vote, citing safety concerns and the potential liability for the village should a skater injure a pedestrian.
“I’m not objecting to skateboarders; that’s the least of my problems,” he said. “I would like to see them skateboard in a nice environment like Collins Park, which would be safe for pedestrians and traffic, so they can have all the fun they want without having to watch over their shoulder all the time.”
Trustee Heather Gray said she shared similar concerns, but ultimately voted in favor of the law because she believes municipalities allowing skateboarding is a future trend and believes the Village Board has a responsibility to meet the needs of all residents.
Still, she said, the village could be held liable in the event of an injury.
“I hope we don’t have to revisit this, but I want everyone to know this is a possibility,” she said.
But Trustee Justin Cook, who help draft the law, said skateboarding in Collins Park was previously prohibited, and that the new law includes language the would shelter the village from any litigation.
“A lot of time and energy went into this to make sure it was as safe as possible,” he said.
The law requires all skateboarders 16 and under to wear a helmet in accordance with state law, and includes a provision that parents and guardians are responsible for ensuring their child complies with the mandate.
It also prohibits skateboarding in a “careless and aggressive manner” and prohibits skating within 6 feet of any “business or commercial structure, except for purposes of ingress or egress.”
In addition, the law prohibits skating along the following roadways:
- Route 5 (Mohawk Avenue) from Schonowee Avenue to Schermerhorn Street.
- Route 50 (Ballston Avenue) from Route 5 (Mohawk Avenue) to Bancker Avenue.
- Route 147 (Sacandaga Road) from Route 5 (Mohawk Avenue) to Albermarle Road.
- Cuthbert Street from Vley Road to Ballston Road.
- Sacandaga Road from Route 5 (Mohawk Avenue) north to the village boundary line.
- Schonowee Avenue from Route 5 to Washington Avenue.
- Vley Road from North Ballston Avenue to Halcyon Street.
Those who violate the law face fines and could have their skateboard confiscated with a $35 impoundment fee.
Albany and Schenectady have approved similar legislation in recent years.
Village trustees began crafting the law earlier this year after two friends, Sheila Marino, 11, and 12-year-old Oliver Talbot, submitted a petition with 250 signatures seeking to allow skateboarding in the village.
Lawmakers praised the pair’s efforts prior to the final vote.
“Thank you very much for going through the process, finding something you were passionate about and following it in the way it should be done,” said Deputy Mayor George Solotruck.
Both Marino and Talbot were in attendance for Wednesday’s vote, surrounded by family and friends who were there in support.
“I’m happy that it passed because we put a lot of work into it,“ said Marino, who began skateboarding about two years ago.
Marino said the process began during COVID, when she and Talbot decided to look into where skateboarding was allowed because they were bored during recess.
“We saw that skateboarding was illegal, so Ollie [Talbot] decided to try and make it legal,” Marino said.
Talbot, who has been skating since he was 8, said now that the law has been approved, he’s hoping to work with village trustees to construct a skate park in Collins Park. Talbot’s father, Joseph Talbot, is seeking to become the next mayor of Scotia.
Oliver Talbot, meanwhile, said he is currently in the process of looking into possible funding sources, including The Skatepark Project, a nonprofit created by skateboarding icon Tony Hawk that provides grants to construct public skateparks. He and hopes to bring a proposal to the Village Board sometime in the future.
“I want to try and get a skatepark,” he said. “So, we have to do it again.”
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.