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Councilman: Accident shows need for riding area for youngsters

November 11, 2004|by ANDY SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - Williamsport Town Councilman Monty R. Jones said during Monday's Town Council meeting that an accident three weeks ago - in which a young boy on a bicycle was hit by a vehicle and almost killed - shows that the town needs to do more to protect its children.

Jones said that skateboarders and bicyclists need a place to ride.

The town should not think that outlawing riding is the solution because that only turns children into outlaws, he said.

"We need to quit putting it on the back burner," he said, suggesting that if the current administration does nothing, "new leadership" in the next election in March will take action.

Because "you've all never done nothing about it," Jones said.

Jones and resident Walter Williams recommended that the town allow youngsters to ride on a flat outdoor surface, such as an unused tennis court or the parking lots in the park.

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But Mayor John W. Slayman said, "If you designate a place for these kids to do it, you better have your liability (insurance) intact."

Jones accused the mayor of "scaring people."

Others joined the debate.

Councilwoman Roxann L. Long said age limits could be a problem if older children dominate a play area, forcing younger children to find another place.

"It's not as easy as saying, 'Here's a place. Now, go and do it,'" she said.

Councilman Earle R. Pereschuk Sr. said the town could be sued if, for example, the blacktop is uneven and causes someone to fall.

Resident Kenton Lafferty added that a skateboarding area could attract children from outside the area.

Councilman James G. McCleaf II asked Slayman to invite the town's insurance company to talk to the mayor and Town Council about liability concerns.

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