Boardwalk Skate Law Advances

OCEAN CITY – A law allowing skateboarding on the Boardwalk has been drafted and approved by the Mayor and City Council to come forward next week to receive final approval.

On Tuesday, the Mayor and City Council voted to move a drafted ordinance to first reading that will allow skateboarding, for transportation purposes only, on Atlantic Avenue, or the Boardwalk, during the same off-season schedule that bicycles are allowed.

The law regarding skateboarding will transform from being  unlawful for any person to  operate a skateboard on Atlantic Avenue at any time to the following times.

From Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, between the hours of 2-11 a.m. Springfest and Sunfest, which are held Thursdays through Sundays, it will be permited between the hours of 2 a.m.-noon. Also, it shall be unlawful for any person to operate a skateboard on the seawall, railings or benches on or adjacant to Atlantic Avenue at any time.

The item that remains the same within the law that it is unlawful for a person to operate a skateboard on any public street, public way, Boardwalk ramp, public alley, public sidewalk, public lots or any other public property, except for public skateboard facilities and public sponsored or authorized skateboard events, withing the corporate limits of Ocean City between April 1 and Oct. 1 of each year.

The council raised some concern over the fact that the ordinance does not include specific language that defines skateboarding as being used for transportation or recreation.

“We are looking at this as a way for people to go from point A to point B and not doing tricks in between,” Councilman Doug Cymek said.

Councilwoman Mary Knight was not concerned over the proposed language and said police officers have the knowledge to be able to tell the difference in using skateboards for transportation and recreation, in other words performing tricks, and were ready to give skateboarding on the Boardwalk a chance.

“Quite frankly for me I don’t think it goes far enough. I think the reality is skateboarding is part of our community, it should be allowed to happen, I say let them skate but if this reduces some of the restrictions and lets us take stepping stones in the right direction I would like to move it forward,” said Councilman Joe Hall, making a motion to move the drafted ordinance to first reading next week.

At that time, the council plans to ask Mayor Rick Meehan to pass it as an emergency ordinance to skip the waiting period of two weeks for the ordinance to return in second reading to receive its final vote.

Councilwoman Margaret Pillas took the opportunity to point out to the public the town’s law regarding skateboarding is a seasonal ordinance and that skateboarding is legal on the streets during the off-season.

“I don’t think people really realize that you have always been able to use a skateboard except for on the Boardwalk,” she said.

Councilman Brent Ashley, who has voiced his opposition in allowing skateboarding on the Boardwalk from the beginning, suggested setting up a designated fund to repair damage caused by skateboards on the Boardwalk and pointed out there has already been damage done without the law being in place.

“Why start out being negative?,” Knight said. “Let’s look at this as being a community … we are trying to do something positive here.”

Pillas stood up for Ashley saying the damage is not a negative but a reality check.

“The taxpayers are going to have to pay for damage and we have to take a look at that,” she said.

Joe Hall asserted that the skateboarder, if caught, is responsible for the damage done.

The council voted 5-1 to approve the drafted ordinance to move to first reading with Councilman Brent Ashley opposed and Margaret Pillas out of the room.