Skateboarders may have a place to ride besides the streets and sidewalks of Centerville as the City Council draws up plans for a new city park and recreation center.
A delegation of teenage skateboarders recently asked the council to consider including a skateboard facility in the city's new park.An organized, supervised skateboarding facility would keep the riders off streets and sidewalks, representative Chad Selleneit told the council. Not all young people are interested in team sports like football or baseball, he said.
Many young people are developing different interests, Selleneit told the council, and would like the city to recognize their individual sports.
"There is a problem with people riding on the sidewalks and in the streets," Selleneit said. "But that's because they have nowhere else to go. A lot of towns are either ignoring the problem or banning skateboards. But the problem isn't going away, it's getting bigger."
Mayor Dean Argyle told the group of a dozen young people that the city is about to commission a landscape architect to design its new park on the 23 acres Centerville recently acquired north of Chase Lane, and their request will be considered.
He asked them to submit a design or sketch of a proposed facility and some cost estimates.
Councilman Doug Nielsen expressed concern about liability to the city if it operates a skateboarding facility. He said helmets and pads should be required for users.
Councilwoman Nancy Gibbs said she has children of her own who skateboard and has found the sport has an image problem. A few skaters, because of their style of dress and drug use, are tarnishing the image of the rest, she said.
But she also warned the delegation that no foul language, drugs, abuse of younger skaters or other types of misbehavior would be tolerated at a city-supervised park.
Centerville resident Bobbi Randall told the council her teenagers are involved in the sport. "The skateboarders I know are good kids. I have skaters in my home all the time and I've never had any problem with them."
She said studies show skateboarding injuries are no more common or severe than injuries suffered in many team sports, like football, that receive city support.