Young skateboarders have brought their argument for being allowed access to certain downtown spaces to Alpharetta officials.
The city has drafted a law banning skaters on downtown sidewalks, alleys, parking garages, stairs and railings after residents’ complained about the noisy activity. But skateboarders say sidewalks are safer than streets. That would be their only option if they were to continue to skateboard downtown.
City Council gave the proposed law a first reading during a meeting Monday.
Rachel MacDonald, 15, told councilmembers that skateboarding brings her joy and increases her confidence. She measured the sound levels and decibels of skateboarding and rollerblading on downtown sidewalks using a microphone and two mobile applications. MacDonald said the sound was less loud than heavy traffic or a running air conditioner.
“A teenager who is just learning how to skate should not be forced to skate in heavy traffic,” she said.
Skateboarder Ethan Palmer said that he represented the population of skateboarders in downtown Alpharetta and the city’s infrastructure is an automatic draw for them.
“It’s basically a skatepark,” he said. “Within 100 feet of where I’m standing there are several stairsteps, smooth concrete, ledges, rails, curbs; everything you need in a skatepark.”
Skateboarders are currently permitted to skate in public parks, on the Alpha Loop and Big Creek Greenway but Recreation and Parks Director Morgan Rodgers suggests that the sport not be allowed in public parks as a safety precaution.
If a new law is approved by City Council, parents of minors who violate it would be given a warning followed by increasing fines for subsequent violations.
Fines would range from $100-$500 and could include 20 hours of community service.
City Council rejected an alternative law by Councilman Dan Merkel that would prohibit skating in parking lots and garages and allow skaters to use sidewalks, alleys and other spaces.
He and other councilmembers have worried about driving out downtown’s youthful demographic.
Merkel said older residents complaining about skaters gave up quiet gated communities for downtown life and shouldn’t be surprised about noise that comes with the territory.
“Sounds like a bunch of old people complaining about the kids, ‘The kids are making noise,’” he said.
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