WEST NEWBURY — Teens looking to use Archealaus Hill Road for summertime recreation and exercise won’t meet with any objections from town leaders.
About 10 local long boarders attended a selectmen’s meeting this week to address recent concerns about the activity raised by the road’s residents to police Chief Lisa Holmes and Public Works Director Gary Bill.
Holmes and Bill told selectmen the neighbors complained that upwards of 25 teenagers on long boards — a variation of a skateboard — are causing a nuisance by gathering on their street and riding down the four-tenths-mile steep incline on their boards. The residents feared the potential for traffic accidents, littering, road damage and loitering.
But Holmes said she has only ever witnessed around half a dozen riders at one time on the street and told selectmen that the boys were “very polite” when she spoke to them about the neighbors concerns.
Bill acknowledged that the long board wheels leave temporary marks on the roadway but said town property is not being damaged by the activity.
“It doesn’t look great but it’s not going to ruin the road,” he said. Like Holmes, he found the kids to be polite and attentive when he spoke to them about picking up their trash before they leave the area.
Selectmen concluded that as long as participants were respectful of private property, wore proper safety equipment, yielded to traffic and cleaned up after themselves, the activity was fine.
Selectman Glenn Kemper noted that in rural communities, like West Newbury, long boards are a mode of transportation for some kids. He felt that the plethora of bikers who use town roadways posed more of a hazard than skateboarders and long boarders did. He suggested using Community Preservation Act funds to build a park for the activity in the future.
“There’s not that much to do in this town for kids. It’s good, clean fun. There could be worse things they were doing,” Kemper said.
At the end of the meeting Holmes thanked the young men for their positive attitudes in dealing with the neighbors’ complaints and told them to have a good summer and be safe.
In existence since the 1970s, long boarding has gained in popularity in the past few years. Long boarders typically use a board around 32 to 60 inches, while skateboarding — which originated in Hawaii in the 1950s — typically uses a board between 28 and 32 inches long.
In other business on Monday night, selectmen met with auditor Dick Hingston to review the annual audit. They discussed the town’s lease with Children’s Castle child care center, reviewed a revised Local Initiative Program for Ocean Meadow and OK’d some part-time coverage for an administrative assistant in the Finance Department.
Anna Marie Beech was reappointed for one more year to the Finance Committee, but asked selectmen to attempt finding a replacement for her before her term ends. There remains one vacant position on the finance board. Anyone interested should contact the selectmen’s office.
The board acknowledged receipt of a site report by SAK Environmental, LLC for a solar panel development plan on town-owned property near Page Elementary School and a memo from the animal control officer regarding a restraining order placed on a dog owned by Lisa Igoe, 132 Indian Hill Road. The dog was unlicensed and was repeatedly loose while not under the owner’s control. The owner must license the dog and build a fence to confine the animal to her yard.