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Source: Daily Pennsylvanian
Date: November 20, 2003
Byline: Sara Levine

Skaters rally for policy changes in Love Park

Local skateboarders are still hoping for a compromise that would legalize skating in JFK Plaza, the area more commonly known as Love Park.

Six weeks after a group called the Coalition to Free Love Park rallied for a compromise for skateboarders, a task force is still deliberating the issue, according to Loree Jones, chief of staff to Managing Director Phil Goldsmith.

"A compromise has not been reached," Jones said. "Skateboarding is still not legal in Love Park."

"There are several more questions to be considered involving the design of the park as well as the financial component, and if those things all get worked out, it could be legalized, but at this time it is too early to say."

Controversy arose when City Controller Jonathan Saidel's statements after the group's rally led skateboarders to believe that skating had been legalized in Love Park, leading to increased illegal skateboarding in the area.

Saidel was "led to believe there was a compromise agreement, but according to Goldsmith, there is no compromise on the horizon," Deputy City Controller Tony Radwanski said.

"There has been more enforcement since the erroneous announcement after the rally that skateboarding is now legal," Jones said. "We are putting up more signs to clearly state the law, and want to make sure we are protecting taxpayer dollars."

Citations for violating the no-skateboarding law range from $25 to $75. Skateboards are also confiscated and are returned when the citation is paid.

Skateboarding is also prohibited in Dilworth Plaza, the area outside City Hall.

"There are lots of places in and around Philadelphia for legal skateboarding," Jones said, citing FDR Park off of Broad Street as one such location.

Arguments against allowing skaters in areas like Love Park concern skateboarders' damage to city property, including benches and stone pavers and harassment of pedestrians.

"The most popular compromises being discussed would allow skateboarding only after a certain time of day, or designated portions of the park as skateboard-only," said Barry Bessler, chief of staff of the Fairmount Park Commission, which administers Love Park.

The Coalition to Free Love Park proposed a compromise that involves setting up a fund so that the financial costs associated with skateboarding would not fall on taxpayers. The group also proposed making use of the vacant tourist center in the park as a restaurant and store selling skateboarding paraphernalia.

"They have already received 30,000 private pledges," Radwanski said.

According to Radwanski, a letter from Saidel in support of this compromise will be hand-delivered to Mayor John Street's office today.

Skateboarders make use of public spaces all over the city, including Penn's campus.

"For the most part, I haven't seen too many of them on campus, but those that are usually aren't a problem at all," College sophomore Steven Mitchell said.

"I've noticed people skating around campus, it hasn't seemed to interfere with anything," College freshman Chelsea Albright said. homepage

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