Red Bank's anti-skateboarding ordinances exists for a reason, officials say. And, like most things, that reason is money.
According to Gary Watson, director of the borough's public works department, Red Bank spent upwards of $30,000 last year making repairs to public property damaged by skateboards and skateboarding.
The issue isn't really riding skateboards, its the damage they cause, especially in parks. When skateboarders grind on railings or other stone surfaces they not only leave behind traces of black board wax - a wax used to make grinding smoother - but they often break off pieces of brick or concrete on the surfaces they grind. The damage is unsightly and can be dangerous.
When things break, Watson said, public works has to replace them.
The issue gained a bit of attention earlier this month when Red Bank Police arrested a 13-year-old in the area of West Front Street for skateboarding offenses. Riverview Gardens, a popular skateboarding destination because of its wide array of railings and short surfaces, is located on West Front Street.
Red Bank Police Chief Stephen McCarthy said police aren't looking to arrest people for skateboarding, though local ordinances prohibit the practice essentially everywhere that isn't your private property. If someone is using a skateboard as a means of transportation and is not bothering pedestrians, police often look the other way. If a patrol comes across a group of kids performing tricks, police will ask them to move along, often several times if they have to, before resorting to any official police action.
Watson said the borough considered a skateboarding park several years ago but that nothing resulted from what were mostly preliminary discussions. The problem with a skatepark is that you need somewhere to put it, it's cost prohibitive, and skateboarders often just aren't interested enough. When it comes to boarding, Watson said, the culture dictates using the entire town as your park.
Despite the large price tag for skateboarding-related damage repairs, there's no indication that enforcement will be stepped up. For now, it looks as though Red Bank will simply have to eat the cost.