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Committee formed to look at skateboarding in Williamsport

September 15, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - A committee was formed Monday to look into the issue of skateboarding in Williamsport amid numerous complaints that problems have increased since the issue was addressed at a Williamsport Town Council meeting last month.

Williamsport Councilman Walter M. Tracy Jr. was named chairman of the committee 13 years after he served on a committee that looked into the same issue.

Members of the Williamsport Town Council and residents who attended Monday's council meeting said problems with illegal skateboarding, such as riding dangerously on heavily trafficked streets, have increased in the town since the last council meeting. At the Aug. 9 meeting, about 10 teenagers asked the council for a place where they can ride skateboards in the town.

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Council members said Monday that skateboarding problems have been rampant on Clifton Drive, Salisbury Street and Artizan Street, and that several frightened senior citizens reported seeing youths damaging their properties.

Mayor John W. Slayman was noticeably angry at "defiance toward senior citizens."

"It's terrible. There's no respect," Slayman said.

Slayman appointed Tracy as chairman of the committee designed to look into possible solutions, including a designated area for skaters. Tracy said he would accept the position only if every member of the council agreed to serve on the committee.

Tracy said he and Slayman were among the town officials who served on a similar committee in 1991. Tracy said places that were designated as legal skateboarding areas as a result of those discussions were not used then.

"That wasn't good enough for them (skateboarders)," Tracy recalled. "They didn't like it, so they came out to the churches."

Tracy said he was willing to look into options in 2004 because "kids change."

Tracy said if the town were to pursue building a skate park, it would have to pay expensive insurance costs, keep the park staffed during all operational hours and include amenities such as a spectator gallery.

"You're talking major bucks, and that's just to satisfy the liability with the insurance company. That's not including zoning, building permits," he said. "I just don't think the taxpayers in this town would stand for it."

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