What to do about illegal skateboarding and illegal bicycling downtown?

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West side building and business owner Dean Kjerland emailed me a copy of what he sent to the City of Northfield today:

I am a long time advocate of The Key.  Unfortunately, some young people hang around a good thing and give it a bad name.  I have a good relationship with the Key, we are neighbors and maintain a positive dialog.  I have an art gallery near and live by The Key in my building which is another unique Northfield place and I get many ‘new to Northfield folks’ stopping in.  I am also very connected with the downtown.

I repeatedly hear comments about the ‘skateboarders’ who congregate in this area and create an environment which people would prefer to be someplace else from.  Since the City has decided that skateboarding is not acceptable on the public sidewalks and riverwalk area, I believe action should be taken to effectively enforce the Ordinance in effect.  This has been a problem for a long time.

I think it is unfair to blame The Key.  What I would like to see is a determined effort to keep this activity from continuing in the neighborhood.  It definitively effects me and my businesses.  I know it effects my neighbors.  And I agree that with limited budgets, it is stretching the resources of the Police Dept.  I believe we must have support from Mayor and the City Council and I am asking that all join in effecting change over here on the west side.

I would appreciate having this forwarded to Jim Pokorney, Kris Vohs, Mayor Lansing, Chief Taylor, Joel Walinski and Brian O’Connell.  This has gone on too long without amelioration.  I expect responses about specific action.  We are all in this together, if anyone disagrees, please, I would like to hear from them.  If anyone wants documented evidence, I would welcome either funds or the loan of equipment to do so…

Sincerely, Dean Kjerland

One year ago I blogged about the problem of people bicycling on downtown sidewalks. A robust discussion ensued but as far as I can tell, nothing has changed. College students and adults continue to be the biggest offenders.

We now have a new police chief. We have a new non-motorized transportation task force. We will soon have a new mayor. We have four council races this fall.

Maybe this is an opportunity for some of these folks to step up to the plate to help solve both problems: illegal bicycling and illegal skateboarding downtown.

27 thoughts on “What to do about illegal skateboarding and illegal bicycling downtown?”

  1. Good comments Dean. These concerns are shared by most if not all the property owners on the west side of the river. One of the problems is when these concerns are raised they become twisted into people complaining about kids. We support the youth activities and The Key youth center. We do not support the problems of the skate boarders on city property and private property. I wish I could record the responses we typically get from the boarders when we ask them to move on. I think people would be saddened by the language and gestures we get back. Here is my favorite. When I told a skateboarder to leave my property his reply was, “***k you, get out of my face before I brain you with my board”.
    How’s that for a great group to try and deal with.
    There have been a few, not many, that when ask to leave simply pick up there boards and move on. On the rarest occasion they may actually apologize. This is typically the really young. What must happen is review the ordinance and then enforce the ordinance. If the boarders really want support in the future they have police there own.

  2. Incidents with skate boarders are escalating on the West Side. The connection with the Key is very clear, since they are routinely zooming in and out of that doorway. Those in charge of the Key need to set some rules and enforce them.

    I generally walk into the Key and look for a supervisor when things get too bad. My shop is not open on a regular basis except on weekends, but for the time I am there, I would like customers to be able to approach my door without threat of being knocked down.

  3. I really, truly see this as TWO distinct problems.

    #1 is the skateboarding on private property. (They are primarily west of the river as of late)

    #2 is the use of bicycles on the sidewalks downtown.

    I can tell you from experience that EVERY weekday evening, our vanpool dodges skateboarders in the road in front of the key, jumping the center median in traffic, or shooting out into traffic from doing tricks in front of Ames Mill (which is clearly and distintlty marked No Skateboarding/No Trespassing.) Many of these young people are also loitering and smoking in addition to trespassing and skateboarding.

    Please do not get me wrong. I am very much pro-skateboard, as I used to do it in my youth, but there are laws, ordinances, and violations of private property we are dealing with here.

    I am all for giving them a place to practice their sport. We really need to do that before we start cracking down on them. How can we enforce the rules if we give them no legal place to practice thier sport?

    As to the second problem, I am really frustrated about this. Bicycling downtown is COMPLETELY unsafe in any manner, either on the sidewalk, or on the street.

    The bike racks downtown are WOEFULLY weak from a capacity standpoint, and always overfilled. Many bikes have been parked there for LONG periods of time.

    My wife uses her bike on a daily basis, and complies with the ordinances. She however WILL NOT ride her bike on the streets downtown, due to the traffic congestion, inattentive motorists, diagonal parking, and a host of other issues. You have to understand that she is NOT a strong cyclist, and is usually carrying a load of books or groceries in her baskets.

    When she heads downtown, her strategy is to park her bike at the library, then walk downtown, do her shopping, carry her groceries back to the library, then walk home.

    There are NO SAFE MARKED crosswalks for her to effectively push her bike accross Washington at Seventh. The crossing at Division and Seventh is like playing russian roulettte. Seventh and Water is not much better. This is really sad, since seventh street is such a nice corridor for travel between downtown and the east side of town.

    The construction has only aggravated the situation, especially getting from the east to the west side of downtown using safe crosswalks. (NOTE: she is WALKING her bike on the sidewalk and crosswalks, not riding.)

    We need to look at this from the perspective that not all cycle riders are the expert riders, and that some have children or other limitations. This keeps them from riding in the street, as it is unsafe. We need to come up with alternatives for that.

    We are all hoping that the construction settles, and that more bike racks appear near the riverwalk at 5th and Water, so that folks can get downtown, park, and shop. Lets remove a few parking spots downtown and put in some more bike racks. The ones with the posts are full, and the long ones are already maxed out. We need more capacity.

    “Second to Seventh, Washington to Water, on the sidewalks I shall not bother…”

    I think that instead of complaining about the ordinance and how everyone is violating it, we need to educate more, and find a way to make downtown more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, while still getting the result of pedestrian safety that the ordinance was meant for.

    Just my $0.02. Thanks.

  4. John S Thomas writes:

    “When she heads downtown, her strategy is to park her bike at the library, then walk downtown, do her shopping, carry her groceries back to the library, then walk home.

    There are NO SAFE MARKED crosswalks for her to effectively push her bike accross Washington at Seventh.”

    Can’t she cross at Washington and Fourth?

  5. Regarding Dean Kjerland’s message of September 11, 2008, titled:

    “What do we want Downtown ?”

    I attended an opening at Mr. Kjerland’s gallery on September 11. At about 8 PM, I was walking back to the east side of the river, using the Foot Bridge. This path took me past Erbert’s and Gerberts Sandwich Shop.

    The entrance to all of the establishments facing the foot bridge walkway in the Larson (EandG) building, have concrete stoops necessitated by a grade difference in the walkway and the building’s entrances. Additionally, to accommodate handicapped access, these stoops are integrated with a series of ramps. This particular access configuration [sic] stoops and ramps in a row, provide an intriguing opportunity for skateboarders to do “their thing”, on these grade separations.

    The noise and the inconvenience to patrons and pedestrians … and the potential damage to the concrete surfaces on which the skateboarders “jump” is obvious. As Mr Kjerland remarked, it is also a violation of an ordinance … a violation that has proven to be poorly enforced … resulting in repeated problems and unpleasant encounters.

    On September 11, at about 8 PM I witnessed about 12 young people gathering in this area sitting and standing along the ramps and stoops, watching no fewer than four of the group, jumping on and off .. flipping their boards, etc .. and crashing down on the stoops and ramps … over and over!

    Access to the sandwich shop was severely impacted … and the noise, etc. was out of hand.

    Additionally, in at least 4 incidents recently, I have been driving on Water Street coming around the west bound curve to the median strip area opposite entrances to: Froggy Bottoms, Basil’s, etc.

    In each of these cases the street was filled with 4 to 6 skateboarders … flipping etc., on their boards, basically ignoring motor vehicle traffic. In one case, a boarder careened toward the front of my car causing me to break in an emergency. In the case of that event, I stopped and encountered the boarders … expressing my concern for the well being, and the poor judgement they were using. The boarder in question was not too receptive to my concerns .. again, resulting in repeated problems and unpleasant encounters.

    And … as D Kjerland, stated … this is not Key Kids. If anything, they (KeyKids) attempt to enforce reason in these kinds of incidents.

    victor summa

  6. John T. you wrote
    “I am all for giving them a place to practice their sport. We really need to do that before we start cracking down on them. How can we enforce the rules if we give them no legal place to practice thier sport?”
    I would have to argue this with you… we need to enforce the laws and ordinances we have now. We should not wait for something to be built, who knows when that may actually be. It should not be tied to a skate park issue.

    People should also realize how hard it is to get support from authorities with keeping people off private property. Even if you post it, the police will not enforce it.

  7. Hello people – great comments. I (and the youth) would love to sit down with the area businesses and talk about concerns, etc. that people may have with the Key and or youth of this community. This concerns anyone on the Water St. block from Froggy’s to Larson’s printing. I’m sure a dialogue about this would work much better than a back and forth on a blog. I’m assuming that everyone has email if they are using the internet, so please email me (Josh Hinnenkamp) – joshhinnenkamp@yahoo.com — I would love to sit down with some youth (and some staffers) to talk about any issues or concerns (and I’m sure some youth have some concerns with adults and businesses owners as well).

    As far as the skateboarders go, well the ones I talk to are for the most part, pretty nice individuals that are deeply concerned with getting a skatepark. They care about their PR and would never want to sabotage their chances of getting a park. I bet if business owners worked hard with the skateboarders to move forward with a park, there would be a lot less troubles in the downtown area. I’m not excusing any skateboarder’s behavior – but some times kids will be kids and sometimes kids can be rotten. There are a million reasons for this from upbringing to living standards to rebellion to a seemingly unconcerned community (sorry but many youth feel this way even with great intergenerational projects put on through the Y, Key, High School, Artech, etc.). But I also will not excuse many adults behavior in the community either. This is a community, not just a bunch of shops and businesses, and I think some of us out there need to realize this. I don’t doubt that skateboarders do occasionally swear at shopowners, adults, etc. but why is that? I think we need to take a look at our own community and realize that we all have a part and can do more of a part to change this. Banning skateboarders or youth or bikes or The Key will not fix things (not saying that anyone believes this). Dialogue will. So who is up for a dialogue and not demands?

  8. Kurt,

    Thanks for your comment (I hope you read my previous post). I do wish to point out that the ordinance, from my understanding, came about when the previous skatepark was built. When the skatepark was taken away it seemed reasonable to many that the ordinance should be lifted. In any case, I’m sure many business owners would disagree with this, but making laws is not going to make a problem go away. Enforcing laws is also not going to make a problem go away. Especially a law that many feel is unjust. The youth need a place to skate, and short of securing this, the problem will remain. Skateboarding is as popular today as it ever has been. It is not a fad and there is a very large group of kids under that age of 12 that are skateboarding in this community. If I was 10 and my relationship with adults for the next 5 years was getting yelled at by them for skating down town or doing a cool trick on someone’s property (which they know is wrong, but not necessarily why it is wrong) I’d probably not care too much about adults in this community either. This is where the adults need to step up and end this senseless cycle (with the youth of course). This is where we should talk as a community about this. Mr. Larson – I know you have been patient at times and I know that you are frustrated. So am I. Let’s talk about this.

  9. Yes Barry, she does cross at Washington and Fourth… it is disappointing that there are not more safe crosswalks into downtown.

    5th and Washington has been painted over.

    7th and Washington has been painted over.

    There is one at 6th and Washington. The problem is that there is no continuity between good sidewalks, paths, and crosswalks. It is all hodge podge.

  10. John,
    I agree with your frustrations on the blacked-out crosswalks, and though I realize there’s logic behind it, I found it a little ridiculous that this was done for “safety.”

    Bicycling downtown is COMPLETELY unsafe in any manner, either on the sidewalk, or on the street.

    I have to disagree with you on this point. Cars really move quite slowly on Division between 2nd and 6th, and I think any moderately experienced cyclist can blend in fine with the traffic. It would be great if there were a designated north-south bike route (e.g., bike lanes on Washington St), but I wouldn’t say that the current options are “completely unsafe.” If it is truly a problem on Division St, maybe we should look to removing the cars instead of the bicycles

  11. John, I agree, the logic of removing crosswalks at 5th and 7th but leaving one at 6th escapes me.

    I do a fair amount of walking on both sides of town and have no difficulty crossing Washington anywhere along its length. You occasionally have to let a few cars go by, but it’s not like there’s a constant stream of traffic. The same is true even on Division at, say 6th and 7th. The one city street I routinely find heavily trafficked is Woodley between Highway 3 and Water.

    (Just to clarify, here are the common-sense rules of pedestrian-driver interaction: The pedestrian should not step out unsafely into traffic, even at a properly marked crosswalk, and the driver should anticipate the possibility the pedestrian will do so anyway, even where there is no crosswalk. Problems tend to occur when one or the other or both are inattentive or foolishly aggressive.)

    To get back somewhat on topic, I think one of the problems with skateboarders lies in degrees of uncertainty. That is, whereas I can walk across a parking lot reasonably secure in the expectation that cars pulling in and out are not going to hit me (assuming they see me), I am less sure whether the kids coming toward me on skateboards have the collective skill and willingness to avoid me. Thomas Schelling, a Nobel Laureate in economics, gave an interesting talk at Carleton last Spring on essentially this subject, the value of commonly understood and abided-by rules of engagement. One of his examples was an experience he had many years ago in Beijing, trying to cross a street thick with bicycles. His initial, tentative foray resulted in a tangle of bikes and irate riders. The proper rule, it was explained to him, was for the pedestrian to simply walk at a steady pace across the street and let the bikes go around him. And indeed, that rule works just fine — not because it’s the law, but because everyone knows what the other person is going to do.

  12. Barry and Sean,

    I guess I would have to agree with you in some regards, but what truly scares me every day is the fact that there are so many inattentive and distracted drivers out there, and not all of them are in cars. Cyclists are just as bad.

    Just yesterday, I saw a young lady on a bike, riding down Division with her headphones on, pedaling with no hands, texting. This was at about 6 PM. All I am going to say is that I feel that is some pretty risky behavior. This was about 100 feet from the intersection of Division and Jefferson parkway. There was a nice wide bikepath not 30 feet from the road, but she was on the shoulder.

    On the other hand, Woodley at Prairie Street is now closed, with a new temporary 4-way stop installed. There is a BIG BLINKING red light mounted right on the sign. Still, people are perpetually running it. I sometimes drive a big white sprinter vanpool van, and nearly got T-boned at that intersection the other day. Of course, the lady in the champagne colored Town & Country van was on her cell phone. All I got was a wave, and I can assure you it wasn’t with all 5 fingers…

    My apologies… I am going off on a tangent.

    Sean,

    Traffic is somewhat calmer on Division between 2nd and 4th, but I personally think that the diagonal parking between 4th and 6th contribute to the danger a bit for cyclists traveling southbound on Division. Cyclists have to be extra vigilant riding in this area, because even though it is only a block, traffic does get moving mid block, and folks back out without looking. People are in a hurry, and they back out much faster than they should at times.

    I am not saying close Division street down, I am just saying that one has to be careful, and both myself and my wife do not feel comfortable on that stretch, so we don’t ride there. We would rather walk our bikes on the sidewalk.

    Does anyone know if a crosswalk will be restored at 5th and Washington after the construction is completed, especially with a bikepath running up 5th from Water street? This intersection is not the safest from a pedestrian perspective, especially on Sunday for church.

    I think your idea for a north-south bikepath down Washington is a fantastic idea. If not that one, I would like to see a north-south down Nevada (a nice calm street) that would connect to Maple on one end, and go all the way to Careton on the other. If we could get that as well as a new path on the far south end of town that would connect the southern end of the soccer fields to the middle school (and a tunnel or safe crossing), and connect to the Target area with a crossing at Hwy 1 and the mill town trail… I think we would be in business.

    Pedestrians and Bikes… its not all about the car. Safe routes to school, Safe routes to work, Safe routes to shop. It makes a community better!

  13. Question to the group:

    Who (or what department) within our city determines the placement of a crosswalk within our community, on a street that is NOT controlled by the County or State?

    I know that streets like Division by the middle school, or Woodley are County or State highways, but what about 5th and Washington, or other places?

    It probably has to do with traffic counts, flows, etc. etc, but I wondered if this is a public works function, or what department oversees this?

    I ask, because it would be nice to see a map with crosswalks on it, so that average citizens could petition for some continuity in getting from A to B as a pedestrian.

    I am not saying we need a crosswalk at every intersection in town, but it would be nice for some additional ones for the movement of students to schools, playgrounds, etc.

  14. Sean- I agree with John T. regarding bicycling down town. Diagonal parking is a real problem, especially with the higher profile vejhicles being driven now. I drive a mini-van, so I have pretty good vision down the street, but when I am in my wife’s Alero and parked next to a high profile, I can’t see anything. I have been almost hit by many people in autos because they do not regognize my predicament and are proceeding in correct right of way. Adding a small profile bicycle into this mix makes even more problems. I don’t have any solution for this. I am just stating a problem that I think exists. When I was in Amsterdam a few years ago, there were whole sides of the roadway devoted to bicycle traffic, with no auto parking allowed. This is fine if there is room to do it. I also saw the same problems we are describing when I was on the side streets. I saw a couple near accidents involving autos and bikes in just the same scenarios as here. I don’t see a simple solution, aside from keeping extreemly vigilant at all times, for both drivers and bikers. Perhaps the elimination of personal communication devices while operating any type of vehicle could help. The problem, again, is inforcing such a ban.

    Josh- I think you have some good observations here. There is one trend I have observered in both the adult and adolescent population. It is the simple respect for other people’s property and personage. Perhaps if we adults give the young people the respect they deserve, we might just get respect back. I know from my own experience, it is much easier to be considerate of someone who shows me consideration. I think this might be one of the traits we parents have not done well in instilling in our young people.

  15. John G. —
    Most bikes make people higher up than they would be walking. From the ground to the top of my helmet, it’s probably about 6’6″. You could be driving a Hummer and I’d still be visible, and I think this is true for shorter people as well. I actually prefer the diagonal parking, because you know by brake lights if somebody is getting ready to back up. There is no indication when a door will fly open for parallel-parked cars.

    But you’re right: vigilance is important. Cars need to watch out for bicycles and vice versa. We have a mutual interest in not getting hit be each other. I don’t think that interest is best served by telling people that they shouldn’t bike on a low-speed public street, though.

    (In this and other bicycling/walking posts, note that while I am a member of the Nonmotorized Task Force, I am not speaking on their behalf. The official position of the TF is that Washington and Water should be designated bike routes to take bicycles off Division. I agree, and when I see bike lanes added on either of those streets, I’ll gladly stop harping on the rights of cyclists to use Division.)

  16. Sean- You are exactly correct on parallel vs. diagonal parking. This applies to either auto or bike traffic. There are numerous door opening incedences just driving my car past parallel parked cars that have used up a few of my years in fright. My point on diagonal parking in my sedan next to a high profile vehicle is that I cannot see anything to my right that is shorter that a semi trailer or delivery van. As far as operators seeing brake lights of a car backing out, that is fair warning to take action. Unfortunately, too many drivers going down the street think it is too inconvenient to stop and allow the parked car with limited vision to back out. I think it is just being inconsiderate. IMHO, the problem is not with the bikers.

  17. I would love to see the ordinance repealed. There are laws against trespassing, damage to property, disorderly conduct, reckless or careless operation, excessive noise, and so forth. Maybe the police need to apply these laws in specific situations instead of leaning on the ordinance.

    What if someone were to start hitting golf balls on Bridge Square? There’s no ordinance prohibiting golf downtown, so how would the harm be addressed?

  18. Jim- I think hitting golf balls on bridge square would have a lot of people teed off. The thing about having a specific ordinance is that it eliminates the subjective judgement call needed for the broader ordinances covering public/private property and reckless operation. That is just my opinion, having dealt with 5 teenagers and their need for very specific guidelines during those teen years.

  19. Skateboarding seems like a different problem from bicycling to me. I think bicycling on sidewalks could be helped by making it easier to bicycle in the street and by educating cyclists and drivers.

    I disagree with Sean about the diagonal parking, both as a driver and as a cyclist. Visibility is difficult when backing out of spaces and I fear hitting cars, bikes and pedestrians when I have to reverse out from between two minivans. As a cyclist, I’ve been surprised by sudden reversals without much time between seeing the white lights and the movement backwards.

    And then there’s laziness…When I park my bicycle in front of Goodbye Blue Monday, have my coffee and then want to ride away I COULD walk my bike to the corner and then get on. Or I could ride on the sidewalk to the corner and then move to the street (and this is more likely, I’m afraid). BUT if there were a mid-block crossing, I might be more likely to enter the street immediately and pedal off.

  20. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that both skateboarders and bicyclists are out facing the elements, sometimes very hot, sometimes very cold, sometimes wet and slippery, or stony, or sunlight in their eyes, even with shades on. These movers are often out of breath, can’t see, spending effort just keeping upright…already at a disadvantage in traffic situations.

    Drivers of vehicles have all the comforts of home and just get too relaxed.

    Not sure what conclusion is to be drawn from this, but when I go downtown, my right foot hovers over the brake pedal, whenever I am not accelerating, pretty much all the time.

  21. Many good comments here. Here are my own thoughts, generally focusing more on cycling (forgive me for that):

    Besides riding on sidewalks, cyclists ignore traffic signals and ride on the wrong side of the street, putting themselves at peril. Enforcement is important, and I’ve planned to ask the police chief to meet with our Task Force on Nonmotorized Transportation to discuss this; we should also discuss skateboarding with him.

    One suggestion I would make is to have the police give out “informational tickets” to those violating laws, which is what some cities do. The police dept. could contact those cities and find out what they do. Possibly we could include the relevant statute or ordinance on the ticket and some wording that we are seeking to protect people from their own unsafe actions, not arbitrarily limit their behavior. Repeat offenders might be given regular tickets.

    I agree with John Thomas that we need to accommodate less skilled cyclists, sometimes with facilities separated from the road (bike paths). But it’s hard in our society to do that given the costs and space needed and the special engineering required to make intersections safe. The latter is vital since the path is NOT separate at intersections (including driveways). It’s hard to make all those things come together.

    Another strategy is to increase the skills of cyclists, and I hope one way to do that will be to offer locally the League of American Bicyclists “Road I” course. This teaches “vehicular cycling skills” for riding on roads and with traffic. We hope that Officer Thad Monroe and John Stull will be trained this fall to teach that course.

    Josh, if you schedule a meeting to talk about skateboarding downtown, please post the info here so we know about it.

    I have the same impression as Betsey that the diagonal parking is more dangerous for the cyclist than parallel parking–for the reasons she cited. Though getting “doored” is a real danger with parallel parking, as Sean wrote, I think it’s possible to ride far enough away from the car to avoid that. I don’t have any empirical data to back up my preference.

    Regarding John Thomas’s questions about who decides the crosswalks, my understanding it that it’s the city engineers. City operations engineer Brian Erickson said in the Nfld News that the Washington St crosswalks were blacked out because they gave a false sense of security; that’s b/c there are no stop signs at those intersections on Washington. It might make sense to create a mid-block crossing on Washington somewhere; such a crossing is free of dangerous car turning movements. But Barry has indicated he thinks there are safe places to cross Washington St.

    The Parks and Trails Plan map has the current plans for bike lanes, shared-use paths, etc.: http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/assets/0/07-11-final-master-plan–white-background-3-10-08.pdf

    I recommend that people print this out. Here is my attempt to verbally describe the facilities planned for downtown or near downtown:

    Bike lanes on both sides of streets on Nevada St., Maple St., 4th St., 5th St. west of Union, and Division St south of 7th

    Bike lanes on one side of the street on Water St (southbound between 5th St and Linden Pl) and Washington St (northbound between Linden Place and 4th St)

    Linking trails (shared-use paths) on 7th St and Division St south of 7th

    And there’s more in other parts of the city. As I look at it now, this plan will be a great stride forward for the city. As streets are worked on, it can be implemented, and at much less cost than the greenway corridors, for example.

    Make sure you let the Council know you support it. Does anyone know when they’ll vote on it? Maybe October as part of the Comprehensive Plan and Transportation Plan?

    Finally, the city should create a Transportation Commission to work on the issues described here. It would have no shortage of work to do and could perhaps help to land federal and state grant dollars for projects–motorized and nonmotorized. The question is whether such a commission would be a burden for staff given their current duties.

  22. The Parks and Trails plan also has bike lanes on Woodley St. between Jefferson Rd and Prairie. Now we need sidewalks there as well!

    The plan was designed by the Park Master Plan consultant, with input by the Transportation Plan consultants.

    Its map seems to have one error: it shows a bike route (signed; not a lane) from Spring St to Linden St. to Poplar St to 5th St (Hwy 19) in the NW part of town. Linden St. does not connect to 5th St/Hwy 19 any more. I think there should be a path from Poplar to the sidewalk on Hwy 19 (north of the train tracks near Caribou Coffee); that was a missed opportunity.

    The Park Master Plan map also shows a bridge (ped/bike?) crossing the Cannon River at the eastern end of St. Olaf Ave. and proceeding to Hwy 19 and Carleton! In my dreams!

  23. From January 2007 through September 1, 2008 (20 months), the Northfield Police sent 22 skateboarding citations to the county. These 22 citations involved 15 boys skateboarding in prohibited public areas or on private property. Some years ago, the judges of the Third Judicial Distict (of which Rice County is a part) decided to make many city ordinance violations “payable.” That is, they are treated much like a parking ticket — no court appearance required if you send in the fine. In the case of the skatebaord ordinance (and curfew and underage smoking and some others), the fine is $25.00.

    The ordinance provides that the police can confiscate the skateboard for a few days and I believe that the Northfield police have been pretty consistent in using that provision. Skatebaord violators can get their skateboards back after the confiscation period is up.

    So the penalty is loss of skateboard for a while, a $25.00 fine or fee; and a trip down to the Safety Center to get the skateboard back.

    Interestingly, the city of Faribault has no comparable ordinance. I am not aware of any problem with skateboarders in Faribault.

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