Alexandria officials and residents, who revel in the city's Revolutionary War past, are having a tough time dealing with the fads of the '80s -- specifically with skateboards, stunt bicycles and rock 'n' roll music -- in historic Old Town.
"It's too rough and ready for the pedestrians," Andrea Dimond said about the teen-agers who breakdance, bike and skate across the cobblestone Market Square.
Dimond, the former president of the Old Town Civic Association, agreed with Acting City Manager Vola Lawson's proposal yesterday that such activities be prohibited in the city's showcase square. "I sound like such a grinch," Dimond said, "but it's really for the safety of others."
Even though the outgoing city council decided June 15 not to ban such activities from the square in front of City Hall, Lawson yesterday asked the newly elected council to consider drafting an ordinance prohibiting loud radio music, biking and skateboarding in the square. The council will discuss the matter Tuesday.
"I thought it was a good idea then, and I think it's a good idea now," said City Council member Patricia S. Ticer. "In the last six months Market Square has turned into a Coney Island."
Largely because 25 students attending the June 15 meeting pleaded with the council to allow them to continue what they called their good, clean fun in the square, the council voted to ban only motor vehicles. Former mayor Charles E. Beatley proved to be the students' main ally, and said at the meeting that he likes to sit near the fountains and watch them perform stunts.
"The city does not need any more lawsuits" Ticer said. "If someone gets hurt there is a question of liability."
But two George Washington Junior High School students in Market Square yesterday said their bicycle stunts enhanced Old Town life. "There wouldn't be the crowds down here if it weren't for us," said Jason M. Bankard, a ninth-grader. "Why don't they city officials leave us alone. Lots of people come down here to see us."
Bankard and David G. Rangel, who daily perform what they described as "freestyle maneuvers" on their specially designed bicycles, said they believe they are being blamed for the recent rash of graffiti on the square's stones.
"We have better grammar than this," Rangel said, pointing to one of the spray painted phrases -- "Churches is nothing but false prophets and anti-Christs."
But Lawson insists that graffiti is not the only problem. She said washing and sanding graffiti from the square's stone recently cost $4,500, but potentially, far greater costs could be incurred from damaged masonry caused by constant skateboarding and bicycling.