Proposed skateboard ban sparks debate

Left to right, skateboarders Joseph Coppola, 21, of

Left to right, skateboarders Joseph Coppola, 21, of Farmingdale, Keith Braden, 23, of Farmingdale; Robert Winant, 23, of Farmingdale; Bryan Wesp, 22, of Massapequa and Kevin Jackowski, 17, of Farmingdale attend a Village of Farmingdale Board of Trustees public hearing to discuss the dangers of skaters traveling at high speeds down Lenox Hill. (Oct. 1, 2012) (Credit: Heather Walsh)

A proposed ban on skateboarding on two Farmingdale streets sparked a debate over individual rights, public safety and the limits of governmental oversight that lasted nearly two hours Monday night, ending only when the village mayor scheduled another meeting for further discussion.

When trustees took up the proposed ban last month, Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said it was "only a matter of time" before somebody got hurt skateboarding down two steep streets, Fairview Road and Yoakum Street, where he said skaters can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.

The bill, which he said was prompted by complaints from neighbors on those streets, would have fined skateboarders or rollerskaters there $100.

But more than 50 young skaters and adult supporters turned out Monday night. They took issue with the mayor's numbers, saying they rarely topped 25 miles per hour. Some argued that a ban would set an unwelcome precedent: "My concern is with you guys banning this, it's going to lead to something else: next year, you guys are going to say, should we ban it in all of Farmingdale?" said one man.

Ekstrand asked delegates from the skaters and residents to return to village hall October 22 to find a solution that would get both "safety addressed and fun not severely limited."

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