Volume 74, Number 55 | May 25 - 31 , 2005

Focus on Union Square

No ‘Lords of Dogtown’ stuff in square

By Lincoln Anderson

In an effort to ground grinding skateboarders and mute loud music in Union Sq. in the evenings, the Parks Department and Police Department a few weeks ago started a joint enforcement program to limit these types of free-wheeling activities. According to Bill Castro, Parks’s Manhattan borough commissioner, the new program is in response to local residents’ complaints.

Specifically, any skateboarder trying to do “Lords of Dogtown”-like tricks on the square’s south plaza granite steps or handrails will be issued a summons and their property, i.e. skateboards, seized. Those using amplified sound without a sound permit will likewise receive a summons, Castro said. Police have recently started confiscating electric bullhorns in the square.

“Grinding” is a skateboarder and rollerblader term for sliding down railings, stair edges and walls.

“It damages the stairs, granite and metal edges,” Castro said. “They say they want to street skate. But they just want to skate on property — in the park and plaza.”

Castro said the skateboarders can go to skate parks, such as in Riverside Park or in the Hudson River Park’s Tribeca section.

As for, another issue, the expansion of vendors in the square’s southwestern and southern end, Castro said there’s really no enforcement that can be done, since they are allowed to be there under the First Amendment. But new vending legislation making its way through the City Council may result in some changes.

“It’s a concern, because it takes up quite a lot of space,” Castro said of the vendors. “We’re happy to have them there within limits — so that people can walk through freely. Parks are for the public.”

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