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Lewes, Delaware
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May 2, 2003     Cape Gazette
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May 2, 2003

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12 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, May 2 - May 8, 2003 Skateboards Continued from page 1 form stunts upon any public side- walk, parking lot or in restricted public parks." Individuals older than twelve are required to skate- board along the street and obey the same rules established for bicyclists. "We get a lot of calls from resi- dents this time of year," said Lewes Police Chief Beau Gooch, who sympathizes with the skaters yet also understands the danger. "They often soap down the curbs which could pose a problem. I know it's difficult for them to have a good time." Seasonal temperatures coupled with the school districts recent spring break saw an increase in skateboarding. "We get kids in Lewes from all over - Milford, Milton and even Rehoboth," said Gooch. "We really had to get on to them for practicing behind the schools." Skateboarders are often attract- ed to schools because they are vir- tually empty after classes and pro- vide vast open spaces in which to skate. Steps, railings and other features that offer skaters a physi- cal object to roll along act like magnets. School Superintendent Andy Brandenberger was not available for comment but Lewes Middle School Assistant Principal Mark Sudimak said it is a district policy that. mandates no skateboarding on school grounds. Long-time Lewes resident Virginia Bishop, who died in an automobile acci- dent April 22, had been a staunch supporter of building a skate park for children. "Our parks are empty because kids today don't like the same things we did as kids. The city needs to give them something they enjoy and they like skate- boarding," Bishop said during an April 7 interview. Jon Milton, Ryan Minnick and Billy Wright couldn't agree more. The teenagers said they have been run off just about every street in Lewes. "I really dislike the fact that people get upset with us," said Milton, who attends Lewes Middle School. "It's our hobby. Do they want us glued to the tele- vision?" Skateboarding helps us work out frustrations, overcome fears and gain confidence." A familiar complaint among residents is that skateboarders are rude but Milton said that's a two- way street. "We have peopl e cuss us out all the time," he said, "This one guy screamed at us to get our 'God damned skateboards' off his sidewalk. That's no way to talk to " us and he doesn't even own the sidewalk, the city does." The teens estimate that more than a quarter of their classmates skateboard. Wright, who has only been skateboarding for four months, said a majority of skate- boarders in town seek less trav- eled streets so that they don't pose a safety hazard. "It's fun and we're not bother- ing other people," said Minnick, "but it doesn't matter because most people in town hate skaters in general." The trio said they would adhere to the rules of a skating facility. Virtually all facilities require skaters to wear helmets and pro- tective pads and many also make users sign waiver forms. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports fewer people are taken to emergency rooms annually for skateboarding injuries than for activities such as bicycling or football. Deputy Mayor Jim Ford is all too familiar with the city's skate- boarding issues. Approximately five years ago city council explored building a park for skate- boarders. "We ran into problems of location, liability, funding, con- struction and upkeep," said Ford, whose son was an avid skate- boarder at the time. The city aban- doned the idea and currently, little has changed. "I hate to say there's nothing the city can do," said Ford, "but we're faced with the same issues. I certainly would entertain input from anyone who has any ideas. The city has so much going on it would be nice to have interested parties become involved because they have a vested interest."_ Ford said just three weeks ago 3304 Ftighway One, Rehoboth 302-226-14o0 Yemporar@ servicingdients at Izzy Plaza, Dewey Beach i! i2 !:. :: Look for coming next door to our location. n Featuring . Anne McDona/d formerly of Bad Hair Vail a[o 9 Bishop approached suggesting a skateboard park near the Doxee plant, which is the future site of the state's boat ramp. "That's state land, so for that idea to be enter- tained you would need to contact our representatives," said Ford. -Councilman Jud Bennett con- curs with Ford. "I understand the enjoyment they get-out of it but it's not safe in the city," said Bennett. "I would very much be in favor of finding a place for the kids to use. Perhaps some private individual has land to donate. We should definitely explore the issue with the community." Bennett said if a location was established, he would push for a prohibition of skateboards on city streets. While a skate park is unlikely to remove skaters totally from city streets, it can improve the rela- Andrew Keegan photo With the end of school fast approaching, skateboarders will have even more time to practice flips, twists and jumps. tionship between residents ,and skaters, said Ford. "We have a large ratio of grandparents to grandchildren. Having a skaters park would give the kids some- thing to do when they come to visit. They don't need to gather a lot of friends together like a ball game and at least then we could tell them 'don't do that here, do it over there,'" he said. '`The kids are constituents of the city and we need to listen to what they have to say." BYERS CHOICE OPEN HOUSE 2003 Fri. 5/2 Sat. 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