Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Gulliford says he’s willing to compromise with skateboarders on an ordinance he introduced in May.
Skaters rolled up to City Hall Tuesday afternoon to meet with him.
Gulliford introduced a skateboard-regulation bill after he said a skateboard defaced government property by taking a chunk out of the marble exterior of City Hall.
“Then I’ve had several people that have indicated they were almost hit by skateboards in the general vicinity of City Hall,” he said. “I thought, ‘We’ve got to protect our building; protect our people.’”
But after Tuesday’s meeting, he’s dialing back his bill.
It used to prohibit skateboarding on sidewalks, but state law allows that, so he scratched it from the bill.
What’s left is a prohibition on skating on city-owned property, including parks and fire stations, unless a sign says it’s allowed. There's also new fines for offenders.
“These guys reached out and they want to come up with some positive solutions and that’s the way you want to do things,” Gulliford said.
Nine skateboarders were in the room Tuesday to work with him on setting up skate-friendly areas downtown. Martin Ramos, the owner of Jacksonville’s Kona Skate Park, discussed his vision of a skate-friendlier Jacksonville.
“Let’s have like six skate spots that are 5,000 or 6,000 square feet in this cool skate trail that can connect them throughout the entire area of downtown,” he said.
Ramos added that adding these skate-friendly features to the cityscape might cast Jacksonville as more progressive, pointing out that skateboard designs typically are modern and artistic.
“It could be a turning point for Jacksonville if we get everybody on board,” he said.
The skaters will be back at City Hall to talk about city-owned parcels that could work for the first skate spot. They also say they can raise money to fund the construction.