Skateboarders who spend time downtown likely will have to find a new place to ride soon.
The Wake Forest Board of Commissioners gave initial approval Tuesday to an ordinance that would prohibit skateboarding and similar activities such as roller skating in a large stretch of downtown with many businesses.
The commissioners want to limit those activities because of the risk of property damage and pedestrian run-ins. But they made major changes to the original draft of the ordinance during their meeting because some commissioners were concerned it went too far.
“We need to back up,” said Commissioner Margaret Stinnett as the board began its debate.
As drafted, the ordinance would have prohibited the use of “any motive device propelled or designed for propulsion by human power” – things such as skateboards and roller skates but also wagons and sleds. It would have applied not just to streets and sidewalks but to parks and in any commercial or business area.
By the time the commissioners finished revising the ordinance, sleds had been struck from a list of examples of prohibited devices, wagons had been added to a list of exempt devices, and skateboarders and their ilk were free to roam in public parks.
The ordinance now refers explicitly to the “downtown municipal service district” as the area where skateboarding and other activities are prohibited. That area extends roughly from south of Holding Avenue to just north of Spring Street and between South White Street and South Franklin Street.
The ordinance also includes an exemption for bicycles, pedicabs and wheelchairs.
Mary Daley, who spoke on behalf of the town’s Youth Advisory Board at the meeting, said youth board members understand the need to prohibit skateboarding downtown. But she is pleased the commissioners decided to narrow the scope of the ordinance, so that skateboarders and others will have more recreation options.
The commissioners must approve the ordinance once more before it takes effect. They are expected to vote again at their March meeting.