Skates, skateboards may be allowed on sidewalks
by W. Winston Skinner
Grantville officials are considering allowing skates, skateboards and rollerblades on sidewalks in some parts of town.
The city council held a first reading for the ordinance change this week. It turns out the change returns the ordinance to its original form. Skates and skateboards were allowed when the ordinance was drafted several years ago, but it was amended to delete those allowed uses.
"You'd be going back to what you originally had,” City Attorney Mark Mitchell said.
Councilman Johnny Cooks had recommended the change, which allows people to skate on sidewalks during daylight hours except in the downtown business district. “Whoever is on the sidewalk, the pedestrians have the right-of-way,” Cooks said.
Questions were raised about possible liability and about whether provisions would be different for someone who did not wear safety equipment. Mitchell said there are no laws requiring people to wear safety equipment while skating. "If somebody wasn't, they would be assuming the risk,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the town would have no more liability “than you do from somebody walking on the sidewalks.”
Councilwoman Selma Coty expressed concerns about the possibility of a skater being hit by a car. She talked about encountering people on skateboards after leaving a council meeting.
“You have to be very, very careful,” she said.
Laws vary greatly in nearby cities. Newnan, for example, prohibits skating on all sidewalks and streets.
"These young folks need a little more freedom that what’s in place right now,” Mayor Jim Sells said. "If it becomes a problem, we can go back to the other ordinance."
Cooks said he did not see the sense in “telling the kids they can't skate." With regard to injuries, he said, "You can trip jogging. You can trip walking. … We need to decriminalize our children."
In other business:
• The first reading was held of an ordinance that would require Grantville residents to have house numbers prominently displayed. "This was originally requested by the police department,” City Manager Johnny Williams said.
He said the ordinance was drafted to be consistent with the county’s ordinance.
"We're talking about requiring each home to have a house number address. What are we going to do about making sure these houses are appropriately marked?” Sells asked.
He noted there are irregularities with numbers and names on properties in some parts of town. Some county tax records show houses on Pine Street as being on Back Street or Front Street — names not used by the city for years.
Mitchell said the ordinance calls for street numbers to be assigned by the city clerk.
• A first reading was held on an ordinance to make the practice of water bill collections consistent with the ordinance. Bills will be due on the 15th of the month, late on the 16th. If the bill is not paid by the 25th, service can be disconnected.
• There was discussion of a site for beach volleyball at the Malcolm-Clements Center. Cooks asked Williams to determine the cost of putting the volleyball court in place.
Sells said he wanted more information, quipping that he equated a beach volleyball court with a sandbox. "I don't want prices. I want to know what beach volleyball looks like,” he said.
• Sells asked the recreation board to consider putting picnic tables at the park on Griffin Street. The pavilion there is "not much good," the mayor said, without tables that are "safe and suitable.”
• Coty and Councilman Barham Lundy both had positive remarks on the fencing at the Malcolm-Clements Center. "That looks really good," Coty said.
“It enhances the park,” Lundy said. “It was a wise decision on this council's part."
• Cooks asked Williams to look into the problem of low tire tread on police cars. “I'll check on it tomorrow,” Williams said.
• The council met in closed session to discuss legal issues but took no action after returning to open session.