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Skateboarding a problem in Afton?

Afton City Council is taking a stance on skateboards.

At their July 17 meeting, council members discussed how to regulate skateboards, and other self-propelled devices.

Earlier this spring City Council members voiced safety concerns over skateboarders and long-boarders going down Afton's roadways at high speeds.

The council discussed several ways to address the issues surrounding skateboarding during last Tuesday's meeting.

One option discussed would be to prohibit skateboarding on specific streets that pose potential safety concerns.

However, Mayor Pat Snyder said she did not see that as the best solution.

"If you prohibit them on certain streets, then they're going to be going to other streets," she said.

Additionally, Snyder said if skateboarding and longboarding were to be prohibited on specific streets the city would have to install signs.

"I don't want to see signs everywhere," she said.

City Council Member Bill Palmquist mirrored Snyder's sentiments that prohibiting skateboarding on specific streets would be impractical given that there are many streets in Afton that pose safety concerns.

"I know what we're trying to do, but it'll be a long list," he said.

City Council Member Joe Richter agreed there are safety concerns related to skateboarding, but questioned whether or not it is really the city's place to prohibit it.

"Do we want to legislate every activity where somebody can get hurt? It can go to the extreme," he said. "I understand that there is risk, but they have to know that there are risks."

Richter said he didn't feel comfortable prohibiting skateboarding while still allowing other activities such as inline skating and biking.

"I think it's a little discriminatory," he said.

Snyder suggested having conversations with the Washington County Sheriff's Department over where the major problem areas are.

"If the deputies know where the trouble areas are they can enforce it," she said.

City Council ultimately agreed not to prohibit longboarding and skateboarding on specific streets, instead favoring a draft ordinance that was presented by city staff.

"I agree with the basic premise of this ordinance," Richter said.

The draft ordinance reads:

"No person may attach a rider of any self-propelled device to any motor vehicle upon a street or

roadway; people using self-propelled devices may not obstruct any sidewalk, lane, alley, public ground,

public landing, wharf or pier, or any other public place by placing any building materials, carriages,

carts, boxes, lumber, firewood, posts or rails or any other materials or substances whatsoever to be used

as ramps or guides for other skateboards or other self-propelled devices; no person may ride or propel a self-propelled device on any sidewalk, public street or public walkway in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger other persons or property; use of a self-propelled device is forbidden on the private property of another; all riders must slow to a speed that is reasonable for conditions of traffic, be able to stop if necessary and yield the right-of-way pedestrians and yield to motor vehicles when crossing roadways; and self-propelled devices may not be operated contrary to the statutory provisions applicable to the operation of bicycles."

City Council voted to table the matter until next month to further review the draft ordinance.

"Maybe we can let it ride," City Council Member Randy Nelson said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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