Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Keystone Businesses Want Action; They Say Skateboarders Are Blocking Customers and Backing Up Traffic

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Keystone Businesses Want Action; They Say Skateboarders Are Blocking Customers and Backing Up Traffic

Article excerpt

Byline: ANNE SPONHOLTZ

Business owners in downtown Keystone Heights are fed up and some of them vented their frustrations at Tuesday's council meeting.

The source of their frustrations revolves around the growing problem with skateboarders using a several-block section of downtown as an after-school playground. The discussion between the council and business owners revolved around the fact there remains a lack of enforcement of existing laws governing skateboarding in the city and a lack of cooperation from skateboarders over the problems.

The Clay County Line is not using the names of the business representatives, who said they fear reprisals if their names are published.

Confronting the skateboarders, some said, seems to only escalate problems.

"I hear from customers on a daily basis," said one person representing a local business.

The business owners cited concerns over customers having difficulty even entering their businesses and at times are unable to park along the streets to access the businesses because of the number of skateboarders in the street. Traffic was backed up recently along Lawrence Boulevard when two school buses were unable to get through one of the streets because of the crowd of skateboards occupying the street.

In one incident relayed to the council, after employees of a bank confronted the skateboarders with concerns, several skateboarders entered the bank, where one of them pretended to be throwing up, spewing a mouth full of soda in front of customers in the bank lobby. Another business, trying to discourage the congregation of skateboarders, removed a bench in front of the business, resulting in the skateboarders "becoming very irate," even cursing the business owner. And business owners said the matter is "only getting worse."

Several skateboarders questioned Wednesday afternoon agreed that the business owners are angry about their skateboarding and gathering in front of their businesses.

"Oh, yes, the businesses are mad at us. But they should be happy we aren't doing drugs," one 12-year-old said. "We just need a place to skateboard. …

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