MASON, Mich. —
Thirty-two-year-old Jon Ireland has lived in Mason his whole life. He has been skateboarding for half his life. Now, he is working to make Mason a more skateboard-friendly city, one kick, one push at a time.
“I went to the first council meeting after I ran into a police officer who told me that it was illegal to skateboard in the cemetery,” Ireland said.
Ireland uses a skateboard as his main mode of transportation and he wants to be able to ride it through the cemetery. He's not looking to do tricks off the headstones -- just ride.
“As it stands, there’s a fine for skateboarding in the cemetery. It’s $25,” Mason City Council Member Elaine Ferris said.
According to the Mason Code of Ordinances, where you can skateboard in the city is limited.
“It’s very restrictive," Ireland said. "It’s far more restrictive than I realized going into this, and it seems to be basically just the Hayhoe Riverwalk and here at the skate park.”
Ireland went to city council to ask why he couldn’t travel on his skateboard through the cemetery and then took it to the cemetery board.
“I ride my skateboard to get groceries," Ireland said. It’s a very green form of transportation and I’d like to encourage people to use green forms of transportation these days more than ever. I’d like to be able to skate throughout the cemetery like people can on their bicycles or hikers with their dogs.”
It ended in a compromise.
"They are insisting that we use the outside eastern trail of the actual Hayhoe Riverwalk, though it is part of the cemetery as well,” Ireland said.
"The only difference was he asked to go through the cemetery, and it was – well I wouldn’t say restricted but that’s what it ended up – is restricted to the Riverwalk particularly, for skateboards, because there is the whole skateboard park which was built specifically for skateboarding,” Ferris said.
Skateboarding is now allowed from the entrance of the cemetery, down the road, which is part of the cemetery, to the Riverwalk. Ferris actually voted against the change but it passed three to four.
“We did a lot of discussion on the fact that the cemetery is a resting place and that people need to be respectful,” Ferris said.
“I heard there being vandalism at the cemetery. I’ve been encouraged to go and check out the damage," Ireland said. "A lot of the damage that I’m seeing is from 100-year-old tombstones and a lot of the wear and tear I’m seeing are from natural erosion.”
So, people who are skateboarding generally aren’t doing kick-flips off of tombstones? Ireland said, generally no.
"I’ve heard that that might be the case, but exploring the cemetery, I’ve not found that to be a physical capability…people on bicycles or on foot could be just as easily disrespectful in a cemetery,” Ireland said.
Ireland has two petitions. One for fair skate rights in Mason and one for equal rights for all travelers on cemetery grounds.
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