St. Pete council member wants to eliminate skateboard ban in downtown area

Says it doesn't fit city's image in 2014

Two decades ago, the City of St. Petersburg created a ban on skateboarding in the downtown.  

The skateboard is how Franklin Alves gets to where he wants to go. 

On this day, like most days, he's headed to the USF St. Pete campus. But once he crosses over 5th Ave. N. into downtown, he's breaking the law.

"It's not like I'm crossing that line and saying, 'I'm breaking the law right now and I'm a rebel.'  It's just a natural way for me to get here and it's unfair that if once I cross that line I can get ticketed for just wanting to come to school and get an education," Alves said.

Riding a skateboard anywhere in the downtown district, from the bay out to 16 St.and between 5 Ave. N. and 5 Ave. S., could cost you a $93 ticket.

"We have to get past our sort of cliche' image of bad kids on skateboards," explained St. Pete city council member Karl Nurse. 

Nurse says the time has come to kick the old ban to the curb and that it doesn't mesh with the city's image in 2014.

"It communicates who's welcome. And frankly, the future of our city, the success or failure is can we embrace and encourage younger creative folks to come to our city or stay in our city," Nurse added.

For some who own businesses and work downtown, they see no problem with relaxing the ban.

"It would probably give us a better image, a more upbeat image," said business owner Ann Marie Calletti.

"I say the worst you could do is try it and see what happens. If we're over-crowded by skateboarders, then you could ban it again. But I don't see that it would really be a problem," said Megan McGillicuddy, who works downtown.

St. Pete city council will discuss the skateboard ban at next Thursday's meeting.  

 

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