If you are a skateboarder in Southern Pines, things are about to possibly change as the town may ease the ordinance in some areas. The Southern Pines Town Council on Oct. 25 heard a presentation by Assistant Town Manager Jessica Roth addressing residents’ concerns about skateboarders. For this discussion, a skateboard is anything propelled by the user that isn’t a bicycle.
Since 2020, there have been some 20 or so incidents with skateboards that required police involvement. According to Southern Pines Police Chief Nick Polidori, skateboarding is currently not permitted in the downtown section but is allowed in certain other areas of the town. According to Polidori, the current statutes are unclear and difficult to enforce.
Under the new proposal, a pedestrian district would be established in the historic downtown shopping area where skateboards would be prohibited, except for the basketball court in the downtown park. The rules would be relaxed in other public areas and permit skateboards on sidewalks and streets.
This map provided by the town shows the new pedestrian district.
The safety of and having access to the downtown area for families and people with disabilities is essential to Southern Pines, according to Mayor Carol Haney. Additionally, a recent study by the Southern Pines Police indicated that over 3,000 cars a day travel on Board Street. Forcing skateboarders into the roads could be dangerous to all concerned.
The town is planning for a public hearing in December to solicit public feedback and vote on it at a later date.
In other meeting business, Polidori demonstrated the new citizen connect portal for reporting nonemergency crimes and tips. The portal, provided by local software company Southern Software, allows the public to file a report on stolen property, harassment, stalking, or lost property.
One example given was that if a citizen loses a cellphone, they will need a police report to file an insurance claim. With the portal, they report it online. They will be contacted within 72 hours and can then go and print the report.
According to Polidori, this is a more efficient use of resources than having an officer go out and spend 30-45 minutes filling out the report and then requiring office staff to print the necessary reports. The portal can be accessed on the town’s website: southernpines.net.
According to Planning Director BJ Grieve, Southern Pines is seeing an increase in the number of projects going through the planning stages. According to Grieve, the pandemic has resulted in a “large number of people having the time to come up with ideas and put pen to paper.” Feasibility studies are the first stage in the project development cycle, and as a rule, only one in six will get past the initial stage.
In 2019, the town received 72 general inquiries, most of which went nowhere. This year, the town has received 238 inquiries with one or two more inquires every week. Currently, there are 55 projects being managed by the town staff. This includes over 1,500 residential units and several office developments.
Councilman Mike Saulnier thanked Grieve and his team “for protecting the brand of Southern Pines.”
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice.
Feature photo by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer Cow McFarland.