Skating fines may increase

Estep: Skateboarders have gotten physical

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Fines enforcing a skateboarding ban in Hollidaysburg Borough may soon be kicked up to a higher cost, as borough leaders voted Thursday evening to advertise an ordinance amendment.

Skateboarder behavior has become especially problematic in recent months, as those skating in the borough have damaged property and have taken hostile tones and actions when scolded by community members, police Chief Rodney Estep said.

“We are seeing the demographic shift from the traditional skateboarding-age kids,” Estep said, explaining problem skaters range in age from 15 to 25 years old.

Richard Latker, with the Hollidaysburg Community Watchdog group, also spoke about skateboarding during Borough Council’s evening meeting.

The topic was presented at a recent Watchdog meeting, when an attendee pointed out that skaters had damaged an area in front of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, he said.

“We have some compassion for them,” Latker said. “I mean, there is not a whole lot of recreational opportunities necessarily for something like that. And skateboarding is lots of fun, and it isn’t necessarily a destructive activity.”

Estep confirmed that skateboarding is prohibited in all public spaces within the borough, including streets and sidewalks.

Violations of that rule come with a fine of $5, he said.

Latker encouraged an increase, and Estep agreed that a hike is warranted.

“A five dollar fine doesn’t cut it,” Latker said.

The $5 fines have done little to curb bad behavior, Estep said, pointing out that one repeat offender was cited nine time last year and seven times this year.

And altercations between some of the skateboarders and concerned property owners became physical on at least one occasion, he said.

“Now these young men, you are seeing them in the newspaper for other crimes,” Estep said. “It’s become quite dangerous.”

Estep suggested that an existing ordinance should be amended to establish more modern fines, which could be doled out on a sliding scale from $25 to $300.

The fine would be set by the local magisterial district judge, with suggestions and feedback penned on citations by issuing officers, Estep said.

“The judge is very appropriate with setting the fines,” he said.

Council members in attendance voted unanimously to advertise the ordinance amendment, with a subsequent vote on adoption at a later date.