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Council to Discuss Skatepark’s Bike Policy

June 17, 2009

Skateboarders and BMX riders coexist at most skateparks and can do so at Wheeling's facility, a resident told Wheeling City Council on Tuesday.

Councilman James Tiu, chairman of council's public works committee, said based on information presented, he would entertain the idea of addressing the issue at the committee's next meeting. Wheeling presently has a policy forbidding BMX bike use at the skate park, according to Russell Jebbia, city director of public works. Bicyclists recently were cited for an infraction of the policy.

Resident Robert Miller presented information to council stating that of 200 skateparks nationwide funded by the Tony Hawk Foundation, 195 welcome use by both skateboarders and BMX riders. The foundation contributed much of the money needed for Wheeling's $330,000 skatepark.

Shortly after the park opened in fall 2007, signs were posted prohibiting use of BMX bikes there. Miller said the bikers had been led to believe - as fundraising was conducted for the skatepark - that BMX bikes would be permitted there.

Those opposed to the bikes at skateparks believe they damage the surface of the bowls for skateboarders and are a safety issue that creates an insurance liability for the city.

Miller said at most parks, the skateboarders and BMX riders respect each other's use of the park. Damage to the surface of the skateparks' bowls, he contends, often results from the surface not having been properly constructed.

Jebbia disputed this and claimed Wheeling's skatepark was constructed solely for skateboard use. The bowls of the skatepark, he continued, are not open enough to accommodate BMX bikes.

The skatepark now "is starting to show wear and tear," he said, and Jebbia attributed the damage to BMX bike use - bringing objections from Miller.

"I'll argue it with you," Jebbia told him.

In other matters, council unanimously passed an ordinance to simplify the city's business licensing fees.

The three fees to be applicable to businesses are specified as follows in the ordinance:

The cost to nonprofit private clubs and fraternal organizations with fewer than 1,000 members would be $600, while those with larger memberships would pay $1,250.

Councilman Donald Atkinson asked if these fraternal organizations would be taxed separately for video lottery machine licenses. City Finance Director Michael Klug answered that they would not, and that the $600 and $1,250 fees were all encompassing.

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