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Some sports banned in downtown Duluth

DULUTH - The Duluth City Council on Monday adopted an ordinance that prohibits sports and recreational activities that pose a threat to public safety or potentially cause property damage downtown on the Town Green and in Taylor Park.

The ordinance will be enforced by city police.

The ban includes throwing or hitting baseballs, softballs, lacrosse balls, and golf balls on the community green and in the park located next to City Hall.

Skating, skateboarding and roller blading as well as riding or operating bicycles, motorized cycles, scooters or similar vehicles would be prohibited.

Before any citations are issued, violators would be given warnings. The ordinance also requires signs listing the prohibited activities to be erected.

The council had asked the city attorney to draw up the ordinance after merchants complained about lacrosse balls striking buildings and breaking the glass at a business.

Upon recommendation of the Finance Committee, the council rescinded a motion passed during its Jan. 22, 2007, meeting providing city employees a combined pension and health care option at either age 60 with 25 years of service or age 62 with 20 years.

No retiring employees have taken advantage of the plan yet.

The city is exploring other ways, including paying a fixed amount rather than a percentage of health care insurance for retirees due to the escalating cost of premiums. In other action, the council:

· Postponed awarding the contract for demolition of the end of the old Calvary Christian Church/Red Clay Theatre and Arts Center building at 3116 Main St. pending further review of the bids received. The project, which includes reconstructing an exterior wall, is part of the preparation for improvements to Ga. Highway 120. The council is expected to reconsider the bids at its next meeting.

· Approved allocating $56,289 in contingency funds including about $50,000 to cover Duluth's share of legal fees involved in the service delivery dispute between Gwinnett County and its cities. The remaining funds will provide four defibrillators for emergency use at City Hall, the Festival Center, Public Works and the Red Clay Theatre and the cost of mandated citywide HIPPA and FACTA staff training.