Skateboarders who whiz through the Old Towne business district should consider themselves warned: Their sport is not allowed.
In response to complaints from downtown merchants, the City Council this week voted 4 to 0 to post "No Skateboarding" signs in the area.
Skateboarding on public roads and in business districts was outlawed in 1982, but when stopped by police, most skaters say they aren't aware of the ordinance, said Sgt. Barry Weinstein.
"That's the first excuse they use: 'I didn't know,' " Weinstein said. "By posting the signs, we are responding to complaints, help ourselves if we have to go to court, and it's more fair to the citizens. . . . If we post it, there's no question of knowledge."
Merchants have complained that the city ordinance is not enforced and that skateboarders are noisy, leave litter in the shopping area and pose a hazard to pedestrians.
According to the city's skateboarding policy, offenders younger than 13 are usually just warned by police. Repeat offenders are likely to receive a "juvenile citation" requiring them to participate in counseling or other programs sponsored by the Police Department.
Offenders 14 to 17 years old are eligible for either a juvenile citation or a regular citation and may be required to go to court, depending on the seriousness of the offense. Anyone 18 or older found violating the ordinance will receive a regular citation and pay a fine.
The city may spend $1,000 to place up to 60 signs in the area bordered by Maple Avenue, Almond Avenue, Lemon Street and Center Street, said traffic engineer Bernie Dennis. Some signs should be posted in 30 days.