I emailed four at-large city council candidates and First District candidate Jennifer Julsrud to ask: “What do you think of the Canal Park skateboarding ban?”
Tim Riley | At-large Duluth City Council Candidate
After looking at the ordinance, some skateboarders at some time ran into pedestrians. And some complaints of property damage initiated the ordinance.
Are you thinking of proposing a skateboard park located near Canal Park? Please let me know your opinion concerning skateboarding there.
Emily Larson | At-large Duluth City Council Candidate
Tough question to answer succinctly, but here goes…
Long Answer: I’m disappointed we don’t have a decent skate park in Duluth. Most skaters I know head to public spaces (and Superior) looking for a way to enjoy their sport with some challenge and terrain. So maybe developing some recreational awesomeness for boarders is one option moving forward.
I personally enjoy a mix of folks and activity in Canal Park. Raising two sons, I appreciate that we want our public spaces to be available for everyone, including our young people, to enjoy. That feeling is also balanced with experience of Amazing Grace, the coffee chop founded by my husband Doug. We’d sold his part of it before the skateboarding conflict arose. I’m sympathetic to the impact of the few folks who choose to recreate disruptively. Certainly that’s the minority of folks who board. I don’t recall if the skateboarding community was welcomed into a discussion of the conflict and subsequent limits placed on boarding. So I’d like to learn more from you on that, the legalities around skateboarding (is it legal to board in the street?), and what best practice is in other communities regarding skateboarding.
Honestly, I’m not convinced Canal Park is the best place for recreational boarding, especially on sidewalks during the high season of tourism with people in and out of shops and the risk of distracted drivers.
Short answer: I’m all for skateboarding. And working with people (especially the boarding community) to identify the best places to make it happen. If it’s Canal Park, then let’s build to suit and / or talk about how to identify a way to make it a fun, safe and workable solution.
Chad Smith | At-large City Council Candidate
Thanks for the question. To put it simply, I don’t support the skateboarding ban in Canal Park. I work in that general area right now and when it was warmer it seemed like I still saw skateboarders all the time. That to me just shows how unenforceable, or at least unenforced, it is. One of my overarching beliefs in government is that rules shouldn’t be put on the books simply to put a rule there. It needs to have a genuine reason, and it absolutely should be enforceable. Putting an unenforceable rule on the books is just a waste of the council’s time and effort. Plus, by banning this in the area, it feels like they are trying to define a certain “image” of people who are welcome there, and those who aren’t. That’s something that makes me uncomfortable.
Basically, it’s a shame that a couple of bad apples spoiled this for the whole bunch, because it led to a disappointing ban that I wouldn’t have supported.
Linda Krug | At-large City Council Candidate
Thanks for your patience; I’ve been traveling for a couple of days and also wanted to have time to look a little at the skateboarding ban issue. After reading some of the 2009 news articles and thinking about the issue, I’d come down on the side of keeping the ban in place. I know I would think much differently about the issue if Canal Park were larger in size and less dense in terms of numbers of people, but it’s not and so my concern is a public safety one.
Jennifer Julsrud | First District City Council Candidate
Skateboarding can be a great way to get around town. My husband Erik, recently skateboarded to and from work (Lakeside to downtown Essentia). It’s also fun, recreational exercise, but the best place for skaters to work on jumps and tricks is at a skate park.
I support the ban on skateboarding in Canal Park’s areas of heavy pedestrian traffic. The ban was the result of a thoughtful collaboration between the business community and the police department. Canal Park needs to be a safe and relaxing place for everyone to enjoy. That being said, I would support the use of skateboards in the bike lanes, as a means of getting around Canal Park.