Support for skate park and skating
The driving force behind major proposed extensions for Wanaka’s skate park says money needs to be freed up to allow the project to begin. That driving force is not your typical skater. Greyhaired, 50-year-old, marketing manager, website entrepreneur, Wanaka Skate Park trustee and avid skater Eddie Spearing has plans drawn up for a fourpart expansion with a budget of $627,400. The expansion would increase the park’s footprint from 712 square metres to 1945sqm. The Queenstown Lakes District Council has agreed to fund one third of the project, to the value of $146,000, under its parks and reserves budget. The club has raised $20,500 on its own, and plans to apply to various community trusts to make up the shortfall. However, rather than wait to have the total $627,400 secured before starting a build of all four stages simultaneously, the club wants to use the council funding to complete stage one, then continue to apply to the community trusts for funding. ‘‘We have the QLDC funding in place, and if it’s freed up we could have stage one built in time for next year’s Winter Games,’’ Mr Spearing said. ‘‘[That] would be a real bonus for the town and for the Winter Games, because organisers want more offpiste activities going on. ‘‘We would then have an international-sized skate park and could run international skate competitions off the back of the Winter Games. ‘‘As it stands. we can’t start anything until the full budget is approved – which might take years.’’ The expansion, even if gradual, would not only benefit the town’s Winter Games profile, Mr Spearing said. ‘‘The skate park is a real youth hub, and is by far the most used sports facility in Wanaka, with 14 to 16 hours use every day of the week.’’ Townspeople and ratepayers should not be put off by the sometimes delinquent-tinged image of skateboarders, he said. ‘‘There is no graffiti, alcohol or drugs here, and the park is built within plain view, almost at the centre of town. ‘‘Skating is now an intrinsic part of youth culture the world over,’’ he said. Wanaka Community Board member Ken Copeland supported the skate park’s expansion at a recent community board meeting, saying skating helped to keep youth ‘‘off the streets’’. The council’s parks and reserves manager Gordon Bailey said the $146,000 in the Parks and Reserves budget had been rolled over from the last financial year, and was so far only available if the other two thirds of funding was raised by the Skate Park Trust. If it was to be freed up for spending before the rest of the funding was in place, the trust would have to make a proposal to do so, Mr Bailey said.
Grind: American traveller Todd Scherlie does a rail slide at the Wanaka Skate Park. Plans for a four-part expansion for the park are drawn up and skate park trustees want council money pledged to part-fund the expansion freed up for immediate use.