Law banning skateboarding off the table for Village of Lancaster
Many youths involved in the sport of skateboarding and BMX riding voiced their concerns about the law and pleaded with the board not to take away the very thing they love to do.
“We love our sport,” said Ryan Neth. “We are respectful to the business owners, their property, and their customers. I believe banning us from what we love is not the proper solution to this problem.”
Joe Maciejewski, who once served on the Lancaster School Board, said he spoke to the Dave Hoch, executive director of the Depew-Lancaster Boys and Girls Club, and he welcomes the opportunity to develop a program for the skateboarders and BMX riders. The possibly to rope off a section of the club’s parking lot so the youths can ride was even mentioned.
“This is an opportunity that presents its self temporarily until the skate park opens,” remarked Maciejewski.
Village of Lancaster Mayor William G. Cansdale Jr. said it is a great idea.
Also speaking at the meeting was Nathan Hallick, a BMX rider. He said to the board that most people think they are troublemakers, and maybe even into drugs, but if people actually got to know them, they would find that most of them are not like that at all.
“With the skate park, we’re hoping that comes in because then we wouldn’t be all over the [village],” remarked Hallick.
Shane Anderson, a skateboarder and BMX rider, said he enlisted in the army in May and he has about a year left until he ships out for basic training.
“I would like to enjoy myself before I leave,” Anderson said. “I don’t think it is right for this to be taken away from us. I organized that protest Friday to say we don’t want to stand for this and we’re going to fight to keep our rights.”
Making another suggestion, Joseph Master, avid rider, said business owners/people could talk to them as individuals and not as people who are below them and they will get the reaction they desire.
“Most of us steer clear of drugs because we are busy following our passion of skating,” remarked Master. “We are busy trying to learn a new trick on a BMX bike. We are trying to do something to better ourselves. I think by enacting this skating ban you are leaving them more opportunity to go on a wrong path.”
Owner of Today’s Dog Grooming Sue Foster said she was in favor of the park and the business owners are not against the youths. She presented the board with a provision of the village code asking what it meant.
The law states, “No person in the village shall ride any motorcycle, bicycle, snowmobile, or other vehicle propelled by the hand or foot of the rider along or upon any public sidewalk intended for the use of pedestrians.”
According to Village of Lancaster Attorney Arthur Herdzik the ordinance has been on the books for decades and does not specifically refer to skateboards and it doesn’t relate to the Central Avenue Business District.
Julia Corallo, owner of Happy Tails Doggie Daycare, said she doesn’t believe Central Avenue is a skateboard park and does support a partial ban.
“I think perhaps after the businesses are closed the skateboarders could come out,” remarked Corallo. “I still do not believe that skateboarding down village streets is good for pedestrians and shoppers. I really hope this board considers the safety of all its citizens of Lancaster, not just the young people. I realize that the children need some place to go and I completely support the skate park.”
In a turn of events, business owner Mike Diegelman, co-owner of Bloomsbury Lane Toy Shoppe said they are against the ban.
“We have taken a different role with these kids,” explained Diegelman. “We have talked to these kids. They’re respectful. Don’t ban them. We can’t ban them.”
Dan Prichard former owner of Sirens Skateshop, was also in attendance at the meeting. He recently closed his store due to this potential law and said this situation is “nothing more than a breakdown of communication.”
“A lot of people are confused as to why I shut my store down, I am going to make it as plain and simple as possible, again, eight newspapers articles that are claiming a proposing ban, hence, making what I sell illegal,” said Prichard. “Skateboarding is not a crime. That’s all there is too it. The skaters are not criminals. They are kids. They are busting their humps for what they believe in. Taking it from them would be extremely immoral on all of your parts.”
Cansdale said he is sorry to see Prichard go and hopes he stays involved in the community as the board saw during the meeting how much of a positive impact he has on the community and with the kids.
“Skateboarding is our life,” said Olivia Sojka, who was one of many youths stating she wants Prichard to reopen his shop. “It is something we love. It keeps us out of trouble. It keeps us out of drugs. It keeps us out of alcohol. I don’t want this ban. It just breaks me. It honestly does.”
In addition, Bill Buchholz, father of Bryce, whose son was struck and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike home in May, provided an update on the skate park and said fund-raising efforts are still continuing. Buchholz announced they have raised $53,000 and within in the next few months a site will be designated with the possibly of breaking ground in the spring.
Brandy Shelton, a Depew business owner, commented she was told that some of the Central Avenue businesses owners have said no to making a donation toward the park.
“If they don’t want these kids on the sidewalks, on the street, well make a donation,” exclaimed Shelton. “We are not going to get anywhere if these people don’t want to try to help.”
First recognizing that this was the largest attendance he has seen in his 20 years of mayor, Cansdale said the board is not going to move forward on scheduling a public hearing.
“We don’t want to take something away,” Cansdale remarked. “Rather than taking away and banning skateboarding downtown, we’re going to work and focus on establishing a skate park in the village.”
Cansdale added that both the village and town board support the skate park.
Village of Lancaster Trustee William C. Schroeder agreed commenting that the board had no intention of coming up with a law that would ban something so popular, but they had to look at what their options were.
“I think you actually found the solutions in yourselves, said Schroder. “All of sudden, miraculously, we have dialogue. I don’t think we really need to do anything. We don’t want to hurt anybody but sometimes in government you have to listen to both sides of the story and there were good arguments on both sides.”