Skateboarding limitations up for debate at Covington City Council

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 16 at 7:29 AM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

COVINGTON, La. - Patrick Brooks skates his way to and from work in downtown Covington daily. That's why when he heard the city wanted to make that, and other skateboard activities illegal, he was floored.

"Most of it is just mode of transportation and some kids on the sidewalk having fun trying to do tricks," he said.

Skater Ryan Foret, who's teaching the tricks of the trade to his two boys, says the news made him reconsider calling Covington home. "Very surprised and shocked because it's transportation,” he said. “So it'd be the same as if you heard they were going to ban bicycles."

The ordinance went before city council Tuesday night prohibiting skateboarding on public property, like the Trailhead, the Justice Center parking garage and city-building parking lots. But it also prevents skating on sidewalks and streets, especially in the downtown historic district. The ordinance was pulled from consideration.

Area skaters banded together and spread word of their objections.

Tuesday night, they rallied through the streets on their way to bring their fight right in front of the council.

Foret said, "The more restriction you give to somebody, the more they're going to want to rebel so it's a bad idea all around."

After hearing the public's response, leaders started reconsidering some of the elements of the ordinance.

"I'm not going to address, and ask the council not to address streets and sidewalks and such,” said Mayor Mike Cooper. “I think there's a common understanding where skateboarders can skate and bicyclists can bicycle and pedestrians can walk."

Cooper says he’s been encouraged by so many taking part in the democratic process and he never intended for skateboarding to be outright banned. Many involved say that makes them hopeful.

Brooks said, “We're definitely willing to listen to the city council and see what they have to say about it, and like the mayor said, hopefully we'll find something that's palatable for everybody."

Cooper says he’s also working with the area recreation district on a possible future skate park. Skaters say having an option like that would help them avoid current issues.

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