Alpharetta bans skateboarding in most of City Center; plans pop-up skate park to open in mid-July

Kid skateboarding on a rail
After the passage of an ordinance banning skateboarding and longboarding in most of downtown Alpharetta, local skaters and city staff are working together to construct a pop-up skate park at Union Hill Park. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

After the passage of an ordinance banning skateboarding and longboarding in most of downtown Alpharetta, local skaters and city staff are working together to construct a pop-up skate park at Union Hill Park. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from Morgan Rodgers, the director of recreation, parks and cultural services for the city of Alpharetta.

Alpharetta City Council members and Mayor Jim Gilvin passed an ordinance in a 4-3 vote at the June 15 council meeting—with Gilvin and council members Dan Merkel and John Hipes voting in opposition—to ban the use of skateboards and longboards in most of the downtown area in what is being called the Skateboard Restriction Zone. Previously, the ordinance's first draft also included inline skates and roller skates in the list of banned devices, but those have since been removed from the ordinance.

The ordinance came about initially because of complaints from residents who live in City Center about property damage, excessive noise and near-collisions between skateboarders and pedestrians as well as between skateboarders and vehicles.

The Skateboard Restriction Zone covers most of the area between Haynes Bridge Road extending west past Canton and Roswell streets on the east and west sides, and stretching to Marietta and Church streets to the south and north. In the restricted zone—which has been decreased in size since the ordinance's first reading June 1—skateboarding and longboarding are prohibited on public sidewalks, parking decks and surface parking lots as well as elevated surfaces such as rails, ramps and steps, according to the ordinance.

Individuals age 17 and older who violate the ordinance can be fined up to $500 and receive up to 20 hours of community service. Parents or guardians of a violator under the age of 17 will be subject to the penalty; however, children age 12 and younger can use a skateboard or longboard within the restricted zone if under direct supervision from a parent, guardian or other adult.

“This has not been an easy issue to deal with, but we have really tried to listen to all of our citizens and focus on the safety concerns,” said Mayor Pro Tem Donald Mitchell, a sponsor of the ordinance, during the meeting.

Temporary solution

Skateboarders spoke during the public comment period of the first reading of the ordinance June 1, citing a lack of skate park as part of the reason why there is high skateboarding activity in the downtown area.

"There are so many skateboarders in this area because, for one, it's basically a skate park. Within 100 feet of where I'm standing, there's several stair sets, smooth concrete ledges, rails, curbs, everything you need in a skate park. Whereas, to go to an actual skate park, the nearest one is 30 minutes away up in Fowler Park in Forsyth County," said Ethan Palmer, an Alpharetta teenage resident and skateboarder, during the June 1 meeting.

DJ Snyder, a former longtime Alpharetta resident and skateboarder, started an online petition in late May to raise awareness on the lack of a skate park in Alpharetta, with the goal of constructing one at Wills Park. In the last month, about 800 people have signed the petition as of publication June 19.

"I grew up in Alpharetta skateboarding the streets and for over a decade, we have tried getting a skatepark in and nothing has ever happened," Snyder said. "We believe it is the best time to entertain this idea as Alpharetta is poised for future growth."

Morgan Rodgers, director of recreation, parks and cultural services for the city of Alpharetta, and Merkel are working with Snyder and other local skaters on a temporary solution to this problem: a pop-up skate park within Union Hill Park, which is expected to be ready by mid-July.

"It was really the expressed need from the skaters that prompted us to do this," Rodgers said in a June 24 interview. "There hasn't been a combined effort [between skaters and the city] for a skate park in the past, and we are trying to remedy that."

Merkel said June 18 that Rodgers and his staff are using leftover funds from a prior project to fix up the roller hockey rinks at Union Hill Park and turn them into a pop-up, temporary skate park to gauge demand for a permanent, dedicated skate park. Rodgers said they are in the process of constructing a ramp, box and rail for the pop-up skate park for a total of less than $5,000.

"This is definitely a great start, but we believe this would only be a temporary solution as something like Wills Park is closer to downtown Alpharetta. However, it gives local skateboarders the opportunity to prove that there is demand [for a skate park]," Snyder said.

Snyder said once the pop-up skate park is ready, local skateboarders are planning to host a Skate Day event there to further show demand for a permanent park, tentatively scheduled for the end of July.
By Kara McIntyre
Kara started with Community Impact Newspaper as the summer intern for the south Houston office in June 2018 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She became the reporter for north Houston's Tomball/Magnolia edition in September 2018, moving to Alpharetta in January 2020 after a promotion to be the editor of the Alpharetta/Milton edition, which is Community Impact's first market in Georgia.


The U.S. Census Bureau will halt its counting operation a month earlier than expected. (Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau)
U.S. Census Bureau to halt counting operation a month earlier than expected

The self-response deadline has moved up to Sept. 30.

Coronavirus cell
Alpharetta's Wills Park Pool closes after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

An employee of the Wills Park Pool tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in the closure of the Wills Park Pool until further notice, city officials announced Aug. 3.

Woman getting a facial
Clean Your Dirty Face facial bar expected to open by early November at Halcyon

The facial bar is anticipated to open in late October or early November.

Sorry we are closed sign board hanging on door
Alpharetta's My Stir Fry permanently closes

The restaurant announced its permanent closure June 6.

Brown bag school lunches
Fulton County Schools to host drive-thru version of First Day Fulton on Aug. 1

The event will take place at Banneker High School in south Fulton County and North Springs High School in north Fulton County.

Coronavirus cell
Coronavirus in Georgia: 3 of 4 Alpharetta, Milton ZIP codes see decline in new cases

Alpharetta and Milton ZIP codes 30022, 30005 and 30004 saw decreases in the number of new cases in two two-week periods, while ZIP code 30009 saw an increase during that time, according to the latest epidemiology report from the Fulton County Board of Health.

Regal movie theaters plan to reopen Aug. 21. (Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)
Here’s what the moviegoing experience will look like when Regal theaters reopen this summer

Face masks will be required of guests in lobbies, hallways, restrooms and in auditoriums when not eating or drinking.

The resolution was passed by the AFT's 45-member executive council and announced by AFT President Randi Weingarten during the union's biennial convention July 28. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
American Federation of Teachers releases resolution supporting 'safety strikes' as 2020-21 school year approaches

According to AFT President Randi Weingarten, the ability for schools to reopen safely hinges on the federal government as state budgets continue to get slashed amid the pandemic-induced economic downturn.

Coronavirus cell
Coronavirus in Georgia: Current hospitalizations show decreases for first time since early June

Current hospitalizations have shown mostly decreasing totals over the last seven days, according to COVID-19 data from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency.

Construction cones
City of Alpharetta approves construction plan contracts to add lanes to Old Milton Parkway

Alpharetta City Council approved contracts at the July 20 meeting to continue progress on the widening of Old Milton Parkway between North Point Parkway and Kimball Bridge Road.