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FANS OF IN-LINE SKATES, BOARDS CAN STILL ROLL THROUGH CITY PARKS

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Rollerbladers and skateboarders can breathe easy: The City Council on Tuesday voted in favor of recreation, turning down an ordinance banning people riding skates, boards and blades from city parks.

With flocks of kids and teenagers riding in-line skates, skates and skateboards, most communities report some degree of annoyance from young people rolling through public areas, but had it passed, Riverton would have been only the second Wasatch Front community to adopt an ordinance prohibiting the activity in city parks."I personally have trouble with legislating everything," said Councilman Keith Coleman, one of three on the council who voted down the ordinance. "If the parks aren't for recreation, then what do we have them for?"

His tune would be different if the problem was occurring in a business district, he said.

City officials wrote the ordinance after park staffers reported significant damage to $500 tables set up around the city's main park near 12700 South and 1400 West. Skateboarders apparently race across the amphitheater stage and hurl themselves onto tables arranged as platforms and jumps, then skid and drive deep gouges and scrapes into the table surfaces.

Beyond the damage, moving wheels don't mix well with children who fill the parks, said Riverton city administrator William Way. If a young child runs out in a skater's path, one of two negative results occurs. "Either the rollerblader takes a header into the ground, or the child gets hurt," he said.

The scenario is real in Riverton Park, which Mayor Sandra Lloyd said is constantly reserved for gatherings and parties. "Young people are young people, and they're going to go where they want to go," Lloyd said.

The ordinance would have included all park space and sidewalks around the park.

Complaining of groups of "wild" in-line skaters in North Canyon Park, Bountiful officials in June passed a similar law banning this type of recreation in the city's nine parks. City manager Tom Hardy said at the time that abuse by a few had halted use for many innocent skateboarders.

Riverton Councilman Steve Brooks disagrees with this approach. "It's a few kids that cause the problems. Why punish the whole city?" he said. "If one kid causes a problem on a bicycle, do you ban bike riding?"

Way said he'll continue to monitor the park, and if it becomes a greater problem, he'll bring another ordinance before the council.

The council agreed that aggressive monitoring by park staff might squelch the problem, although Parks Superintendent Jim Katzdorn has his doubts. "We've talked to them. We told them they could use the tennis court area - they could even bring in their own jumps and set them up, but they don't seem interested."

Katzdorn is big on recreating, but not at the expense of city property. "I don't know, if I were a kid I might be doing the same thing, but right now, I'm not in that position."