Council votes to ban downtown skating

By Melanie Ruberti

mruberti@civitasmedia.com

LaGRANGE — Skateboard enthusiasts will have to find other places in town to ride the rails after the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve new changes to an ordinance prohibiting skating in parts of LaGrange.

The ordinance now bans skateboarding, roller skating and similar activities in downtown parking lots and parking decks.

Mayor Jim Thornton said in the old ordinance, enacted several years ago, skateboarding was already prohibited on downtown sidewalks.

Thornton stated the new ordinance was mandated for safety reasons. City officials cited a recent complaint from a woman who claimed she almost hit a skateboarder with her car while driving through a parking deck.

But officials said they are one step closer to possibly creating a public skateboarding park somewhere else — in a safe place — within the city.

Leigh Threadgill, LaGrange city planner, said she has been flooded with phone calls since Friday after the announcement of a potential future park. She said after speaking with residents over the past few days, she first hopes to form a steering committee that will help design a community-friendly skate park.

“They all said they want to maintain the ‘street vibe,’” Threadgill told City Council about her discussions. “That’s what I heard from kids, grandparents and parents. So, it was a really good cross-section of people.

” … What are the desires of the community? What would they enjoy? We want to make sure they use the park — and enjoy it,” she added.

The mayor said the new changes to the ordinance will take effect immediately. LaGrange Public Safety Chief Lou Dekmar agreed to a 60 day “grace period” where police officers will issue warnings instead of citations.

After 60 days, people who receive multiple citations could face fines up to $1,000.

In other business, City Council unanimously voted to approve:

• Rezoned the property at 1901 Hamilton Road from residential to school. The building, once a home, now houses Discovery Cottage, a school for children with special needs that is also a part of the Lafayette Christian School campus.

• Amended the ordinance in general industrial zoning districts to allow for firework sales.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.