New ordinance will ban bikes once and for all. Mayor wants to meet with Rec Board to discuss ongoing problems

The Taft City Council weighed in on the Taft Skate Park discussion Tuesday night after the West Side Recreation and Park District's Board expressed its frustration with ongoing problems at the facility.

The council, discussing a new ordinance that would formally ban bikes from the facility, didn't go as far as some members of the Rec Board, agreed there are ongoing enforcement issues that have to be dealt with.

Mayor Paul Linder said he wants to meet with the Rec District late this summer to discuss the ongoing problems, which led one Rec Board member to suggest closing the park altogether.

That's not something the city wants to see, and Linder said he hopes now the police department can go back to citing the bikes in the park.

"What we are doing tonight is enhancing our ordinance so we can go after and cite the bikes," Linder said. "We are putting some bite in our bark."

The Rec District's frustration boiled over at a June 20 meeting with Director Bill McPherson saying he would just as soon fill the skate park up with dirt and close it.

Linder said he wants to handle problems like this before it goes public.

Linder and the others in the council said bikes have no place at the facility, which was designed only for skates and skateboards.
A staff report written for the council cited both safety for bike riders and skaters and damage to the cement done by bikes.
"I don't think bikes and skateboards can commingle," Linder said.

Councilman Dave Noerr, who was on the Rec Board when the park was built by the city and handed over to the Rec to operate, and Councilman Randy Miller said its a safety issue that could lead to the park being closed if nothing is done.

"At some point someone is going to get hurt and we're going to have to shut it down and that's going to be the end of it," Miller said.

Councilman RonWaldrop echoed the frustration of the Rec Board with the behavior of some of the young people at the park.

"We keep trying to build things up and they keep trying to tear it down," he said. "They better wise up or they are going to lose it all."