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In the News Index

Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Date: November 15, 2003
Byline: Mark McDonald


Skateboard plan for LOVE Park stalls

Official: City wants to compromise but deplores $60,000 in damage

Almost six weeks after a skateboarder rally aimed at persuading the Street administration to let skaters return to LOVE Park, Managing Director Phil Goldsmith said yesterday he saw no compromise on the horizon.

"I have nothing now that I can recommend to the mayor or to Fairmount Park Commission," he said.

Goldsmith said he's rejected the idea of letting skateboarders take over the park after 3 p.m. or any other hour because it would conflict with those who want to sit in or stroll through the park.

While he is intrigued by designating a small section of the park for skateboarding, his idea of an area near the now-closed visitors' center is not favored by the skateboarding community, he said.

Instead, skateboarders want to roll in front of the LOVE statue. "That makes no sense to me," he said, "so we keep trying to find a compromise."

Until a plan emerges, Goldsmith said the city will strictly enforce the law against skateboarding there, as well as at Dilworth Plaza on the west side of City Hall.

Goldsmith said vandalism at Dilworth Plaza and harassment of pedestrians have persuaded him to boost enforcement there.

"There is enormous damage being done there, and I've been getting a large number of e-mails from people trying to walk through the plaza," he said. "We are going to crack down there. We'll be putting up new signs prohibiting skateboarding, and we'll be installing mechanisms that will make it difficult to skate."

Goldsmith said it was unfortunate that City Controller Jon-athan Saidel had told the October rally that the administration was within days of a resolution because Saidel jumped the gun.

Since then, illegal skateboarding has been on the rise.

"There's been this misconception that it's become legal and it hasn't," he said. In the park, he estimates that there's been more than $60,000 in damage, from broken benches and stone pavers to planters and trash cans.

Police can and will ticket skateboarders and seize their boards, he said.

In any compromise that brings skateboarding into the park, Goldsmith said, "The issue I have is who pays for maintaining the park and how do we control skateboarding."

Though the city is slowly working on a plan for an alternate skateboard park on a parcel near the Art Museum, possibly with some design touches borrowed from JFK Plaza (the official name of LOVE Park), Goldsmith produced a list of 16 skateboarding venues, including four in Philadelphia.

"There are places all over the region to skateboard. They don't need to come here to ruin city property," he said. "If someone was taking a chisel and chiseling away at their private property, their patios or porches, they would not be very happy. That is what's happening here."

Goldsmith said he's committed to looking for a compromise, "a way that people can share the land respectfully. In the meantime, we are going to enforce the rules and protect property and people," he said.

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