Bikes, skateboards may be banned from city-owned parks

JOHNSTOWN — Bicycles and skateboards may be banned from city parks due to previous vandalism and assorted criminal activity.

The Common Council discussed the issue Monday night at City Hall, bouncing off ideas from the monthly report issued to the council by police Chief David Gilbo.

In his March report, Gilbo said that “due to more reports of criminal mischief” in city parks, he will draft a proposed council resolution calling for the banning of bicycles and skateboards in city parks.

The council would have to approve such a resolution before it could go into effect.

Gilbo, who wasn’t present at Monday night’s session, wrote that increasing criminal activity has occurred at the Sir William Johnson Downtown Park off West Main Street, Partner’s Park, and the Washington Street Park.

He indicated he will be drafting a resolution, also asking families to get involved in the discussion.

“Parents are asked to have discussions with children about respecting the property of others, which includes city-owned property,” the chief reported.

Mayor Vern Jackson told the council that such criminal activity has recently hit hard the downtown park, with its Charles Jenner Memorial Bandshell. The bandshell is used for various events such as Citizen’s Band concerts, veteran services, the Colonial Stroll in December and other events.

“We’ve had vandalism to the tune of four or five electrical outlets,” Jackson said.

Bikes have been ridden up and down the walls of the bandshell and bandstand, and through the downtown park flower beds, the mayor said.

“I support this,” Jackson said of the bike and skateboard ban. “People are sitting out there again.”

Jackson said the city Department of Public Works related that electrical outlets were “destroyed” and now have to be replaced, and the markings on the walls are very noticeable.

All this comes at a time when city Friday night concerts and “Thursday Jams” will be on again soon after a long winter and year of shutdowns and inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We just ask for them to have respect for our property,” Jackson said, not defining the group.

At the Washington Street Park, Jackson said the situation has “gotten better” after fire almost destroyed the gazebo.

“They’re kind of behaving there,” he said.

For Partner’s Park, 4th Ward Councilman Max Spritzer speculated that the city might be able to invest in some recreation equipment for youth.

Elsewhere in his monthly report for March, Gilbo indicated the city Police Department handled 729 calls for services. Out of those calls, 89 criminal cases were generated.

There were 43 arrests by city police during the month. Thirty-three of the arrests were males — 31 white, two black; and 10 arrests were females – nine white, one white-Hispanic.

The police department in March had zero personnel complaints filed. There were two use of force reports filed involving physical strength.

Police issued 292 citations during the month — 70 traffic, and 222 parking. There were 22 traffic accidents investigated in March.


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