Construction continues at Pierce Park, the skate park in downtown. Although the park is not officially open for use, some people have received tickets for riding bikes in the downtown area.
According to police reports, On Saturday, Feb. 2, 10 teenagers were seen inside of the skate park, which is behind a closed fence. Officers learned that two of the boys, ages 17 and 19, had received multiple previous warnings about being in the park.
Taylor Police Commander Joseph Branson said it is a class B misdemeanor for criminal trespassing, however the two teens received citations for lesser charges for violation of city ordinance for bikes and skateboards in the downtown business district.
The other eight teenagers did not have any prior history and were released with warnings.
Branson said police have received calls about the people in the skate park.
"Right now it is a safety concern. It is a construction site," he said. "People are excited and want to use it because it is going to be a great addition to downtown, and we're looking forward to it as well, but it is not open yet."
He said safety is the main reason it is not open, and when people go beyond the fence, they are illegally trespassing.
After a social media storm over the incident, questions were raised about the ordinance for the use of bikes and skateboards in the downtown area.
According to the ordinance, bikes, skateboards, roller skates, roller skis and play vehicles are prohibited on any sidewalk or street in the downtown business district.
The business district is defined as the area of Sixth Street on the north, Washburn Street on the east, First Street on the south and Fowzer Street on the west, and includes sidewalks on either side of these specific streets.
Bikes, skateboards, etc. are also not allowed in areas on private or public property where there are signs posted prohibiting their use.
"We have received calls, and we're going to respond to every call we receive," Branson said. "Whatever officers find when they investigate will dictate what actions the officers take."
Branson said officers would like voluntary compliance with the ordinance.
"We're not on mission to write a ticket to every kid we see on a bike, however we want people to be safe," he said.
Mayor Brandt Rydell said the city will face issues such as this as Taylor grows, specifically in the downtown area.
"I'm sure we'll run up against more instances where old ordinances will need to be revisited to address the changing dynamics of our town," he said.
He compared this situation to the recent ordinance battle over consuming alcohol on the sidewalk. He said while it may have made sense at the time it was enacted, it impeded the community's progress toward creating an active, engaging and vibrant downtown experience.
"The opening of the new skate park in Taylor provides the council another opportunity to look at our ordinances and whether they need to be revised given the ongoing changes in downtown Taylor," Rydell said.
Until the ordinance is reviewed and/or amended, people who use their bikes or skateboards in the downtown business district are encouraged to walk with their bike or skateboard.
"You can have your bike in the business district, but you should be walking it," Branson said. "We want everyone to be able to enjoy downtown. We don't want there to be safety issues and concerns."