- Associated Press - Saturday, December 13, 2014

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Those wanting to enjoy some sledding in Dubuque this winter might soon find their options limited.

The Dubuque City Council will consider on Monday an ordinance restricting sledding on public property to Allison-Henderson Park and Bunker Hill Golf Course, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1qJorC9 ).

The move is necessary to reduce liability risk to the city, City Attorney Barry Lindahl said. While municipalities are largely indemnified against lawsuits related to skateboarding and bicycling injuries, no such protections exist for sledding, skiing and snowboarding, Lindahl said.

In 2012, Sioux City paid $478,632 as part of a total $2.75 million settlement after a man hit a stop sign and suffered a spinal cord injury while sledding. And Boone officials agreed to pay more than $12 million to settle a lawsuit from a sledder who struck a concrete block at the bottom of a hill in 2008.

If the ordinance is adopted, signs would be placed at the two parks warning visitors that they are sledding at their own risk. Sledding would be limited to daylight hours, and inner tubes would be banned entirely.

Eliminating the city’s sledding liability would require action by the Iowa Legislature, Lindahl said. That move has been included on Dubuque’s list of legislative priorities for years, but has not produced results. Unless lawmakers act, restrictions are the only way to limit the city’s exposure to lawsuits, Lindahl said.

“By having an ordinance prohibiting it except in designated areas, if you’re sledding somewhere where it’s prohibited, you’re trespassing,” he said. “Trespassing limits liability.”

Sledders caught in non-designated areas likely would be issued a warning, Police Lt. Scott Baxter said.


Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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