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Gainesville Councilwoman clears air on skateboarding ordinance
Figueras: Residents shouldnt get 'panicky' over new downtown rule
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Gainesville’s City Council will make its final decision regarding an ordinance banning skateboarding on sidewalks and public squares Tuesday, but before they do, Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras wants to make sure residents understand the meaning of the ordinance.

In the council’s last official discussion of the ordinance before it votes on Tuesday, Figueras said “one or two people have decided to make this into a big deal.” She urged residents to not become “panicky about things that really are not the truth about the square.”

“Just stop all of this junk about you can’t do nothing on the square is what I’m trying to say, OK?” Figueras said. “You can.”

The ordinance prohibits riding animals, bicycles as well as “coasters, roller skates and similar devices” used for self-transportation on public sidewalks and in public squares, public parking lots and decks.

Riding bikes, animals and skateboards already is prohibited on sidewalks in the city limits, but the ordinance extends the prohibition to public areas where people have been known to skateboard.

The ordinance does not “limit the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act,” and council members can vote to make exceptions for downtown events.

Council members gave the ordinance initial approval Feb. 16, and since that time, a number of residents have contacted city officials with confusion about the ordinance.

Some have expressed concerns that the ordinance would prohibit people from pushing baby strollers on the downtown square or keep residents from riding their bikes downtown, which is allowed on the roads.

Figueras used time for council issues on Thursday’s agenda to clear the air. She said her comments were in reference to an e-mail from Assistant City Manager Angela Sheppard.

“I just need everybody to know in Gainesville, Ga., that no matter how it’s reported ... the ordinance did not say that you could not ride a bicycle on the square; it did not say that you cannot push a baby in a stroller on the square; it did not say that you can’t even come downtown,” Figueras said. “I think that people love to have an exploration on words and make words into something (they’re) not. But this council can give permission for whatever we do — horse carriages, et cetera, et cetera — during Mule Camp; we’ll still be able to have it downtown.”

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