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Skateboards as transportation?
Oxford Village considers it

by CJ Carnacchio

March 21, 2012

Should skateboarding be allowed as a mode of transportation in Oxford Village?

Village residents, property owners and merchants will get their chance to speak to this question at a public hearing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 10.

Council is considering an ordinance amendment that would allow skateboards in public places if they're "solely used for transport purposes."

The amendment was requested by Chris Werth, owner of downtown's Dubz Bikes & Boards (14 N. Washington St.).

"It's kind of hard to have a skateboard business when you could (get) in trouble for doing something (using a product) that we're selling," Werth told the Downtown Development Authority board at its Feb. 20 meeting. "It's a pretty hefty fine if skateboarders are found skateboarding in the Oxford area."

In effect since January 2005, the current ordinance makes it "unlawful for any person within the city limits of the Village of Oxford to skateboard" in a public place in such a way as to create an obstruction.

The ordinance defines a public place as "places of business in the village, including all zero lot line properties, meaning any place to which the general public has access and a right of resort for business or entertainment purposes, but does not necessarily mean a place devoted solely to the uses of the public.

"It shall include the fronts, rears, and immediate areas including pedestrian and parking areas of any store, shop, restaurant, tavern, or any other place of business and also public grounds (without a designated facility), areas, parks, schools or any private properties without the expressed written permission of the owner, lessee, managing agent, or person in control or charge of the property."

Penalties for violating the ordinance include "confiscation and possible non-return" of the skateboard, fines from $125 to $500 and community service from 50 to 200 hours.

Werth explained to the DDA board how many people, both youths and adults, are using skateboards, or longboards, for transportation or commuting.

Village President Tom Benner noted he's not keen on the idea of amending the ordinance. "Not that young people aren't responsible, but I think a skateboard is more of a recreational item than it is a (mode) of transportation," he said.

To Benner, skateboards are for exercise and "fancy stunts."

"A lot of (the kids) are very talented," he added. But Benner doesn't want to see skateboarders going down the sidewalk or rolling around the park where somebody like a youngster or baby or "expectant mother" could get hurt.

"Accidents do happen," he said. "From that fact alone, I would not be in favor of (having) a skateboard counted as a mode of transportation."