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Thomson officials fine-tune rules for skateboarders inside city limits

Skateboarders just got a big reprieve. And they can thank Thomson City Administrator Don Powers and other city officials for it.

Specific guidelines, however, lie in the path of those who choose to ride and perform tricks on their skateboards within the city limits of Thomson.

One of the first concessions that skateboarders must follow is that they will not be permitted on city sidewalks or in the annex area of the Thomson Depot, according to Mr. Powers.

"We don't want to be so strict that we forbid skateboarders from being able to ride and have some fun in some of our downtown parking lots," Mr. Powers said. "The kids need a place where they can have some fun."

At the same time, though, Mr. Powers pointed out that under no circumstances are skateboarders allowed on city sidewalks.

"We'll permit them to ride in some of the parking lots, but we won't allow them to ride the skateboards on our sidewalks," he said.

One of the biggest reasons that city officials don't want skateboarders on the sidewalks is because new ones recently were put in along Main and Railroad streets under the city's new downtown revitalization program.

Skateboarders recently had been told by police officers that they couldn't skate anywhere within the city limits. But such is no longer the case.

Additionally, skateboarders also have received permission to ride their "boards" in the parking lots at Sweetwater Park when it's not busy, according to Bob Howard, director of the Thomson-McDuffie Recreation and Leisure Services.

"I don't have any problem with skateboarders coming out here and riding their skateboards, as long as they are careful," Mr. Howard said. "I'd rather them not skateboard out here when we're having big tournaments and things like that because it could become dangerous."

Mr. Howard also said he has invited representatives with the American Ramp Company to Sweetwater Park in August to showcase some of their products. He plans to invite members of the local recreation board, government officials and youth to the facility so they can share their input about what the company has to offer.

A skateboard park is in the works for McDuffie County. It would be funded with a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), if such is approved later this year by voters in a special referendum. Government officials in Thomson, Dearing and McDuffie County have agreed to spend up to $300,000 for a skateboard park.

At this time, it hasn't been decided where such a park would be built.

During a recent commission meeting, Commissioner Fred Favors said he supports a skateboard park being built and expressed a desire to see proposed SPLOST funding for it moved up on the schedule. The park wasn't originally slated for funding until the year 2012 - four years away.

Commissioner Favors got his wish during the commissioners' work session on Monday night when Chairman Charlie Newton announced that the skate park idea had been moved up to the first year of the new SPLOST V funding.

Web posted on Thursday, June 05, 2008

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