Commissioners said one of the driving issues is that the sidewalks are so narrow, there isn’t room for both pedestrians and skateboarders.
PANAMA CITY — St. Andrews could be added to the list of places where skateboarding is not allowed.
At its Tuesday meeting, the Panama City Commission took the first steps toward prohibiting skateboarding in St. Andrews as part of an update of the city’s traffic ordinance. The change in skateboarding policy was at the request of the St. Andrews Business District, according to the city.
“It’s a safety issue,” Commissioner Billy Rader said.
But members of the St. Andrews Independent Business Alliance, better known as Salty, said Tuesday they support skateboarding and did not ask for this.
“We’re not against skateboarding,” said member Brad Stephens, owner of Sunjammers. “We encourage it. We want people living a healthy, active lifestyle.”
Some business owners, however, have expressed concerns to St. Andrews Commissioner Mike Nichols. He said the sidewalks are so narrow, there isn’t room for both pedestrians and skateboarders, and there have been issues with property damage.
A similar policy prohibiting skateboarding is already in place in downtown Panama City.
To accommodate skateboarders, the city already had set aside money in its budget this year to build a skate park, though the location still is being determined.
The commissioners heard a first reading of the ordinance Tuesday and have not made a final decision. The city started reviewing its traffic policy in response to downtown merchants’ requests for a more proactive approach to the two-hour downtown parking limit. The request triggered a larger review, as discrepancies were found, including that the two-hour parking signs technically were not enforceable.
Proposed changes to the policy include fixing the parking signs, the new skateboarding rule, making it clear bikers can’t ride on sidewalks, having all parking fines paid at the courthouse and decriminalizing parking tickets, according to Police Chief Scott Ervin.
“It used to be a misdemeanor if you didn’t respond (to a city parking ticket),” Ervin said. “In other words, the way the ordinance was constructed, if I write you a parking ticket and you didn’t pay within 30 days, we sent you a notice, you didn’t respond, we were supposed to get a warrant for your arrest.
“Well, we didn’t want to criminalize a parking ticket, so we decriminalized that and just made it a civil fine.”
In other news, the commission voted to:
• Have Mott Macdonald conduct a study of the city’s water and sewer systems to determine where upgrades are needed to improve drinking water. The study will look at the city’s water distribution system ($87,000), the St. Andrews Waste Water Collection System ($74,290) and Millville Waste Water Collection System ($75,270).
• Have Anderson Construction repair the Martin Theatre roof for $337,858.
• Restrict commercial traffic on East Sixth Street, from East Avenue to Kraft Avenue, at the request of the residents.