Don’t sell users short
When Kapi-mana News attended a meeting of stakeholders early last year to address crime in Whitby’s village centre, the future of the skate park was discussed.
We got the impression finding it a new home – should its present location not fit with the looming supermarket development next to Adventure Park – would be a tough ask.
Nobody wanted a skate park as a neighbour, such was the stigma of it being a magnet for young troublemakers.
Porirua City Council has saved itself a headache with the terms of its land use licence to Foodstuffs, expected to be granted tomorrow night.
The licence will allow Foodstuffs shared use of the Adventure Park car park and access to the supermarket from Discovery Dr. It will also make the skate park Foodstuffs’ responsibility.
The good news for skateboard, scooter and BMX riders is there will be a skate park – Foodstuffs is required to either modify the existing facility or build a new one nearby.
The preferred site is on reserve land north of the bowling club, close to Discovery Dr.
However, it is unclear what involvement, if any, skate park users will have in the decision-making process.
The 3000-square-metre supermarket and its linkages to the mall through Adventure Park should be an exciting and rejuvenating development of Whitby’s village centre. But Foodstuffs’ skate park proposal is still to be finalised.
We are told the company has consulted skate park users, but only to the extent users were ‘‘happy’’ to learn the park would be enhanced or replaced.
In recent years when the city council has revamped a skate park (Pukerua Bay) or playground (Aotea Lagoon), it has done a great job of engaging young user groups, including input on equipment design.
Will Whitby kids still be afforded the same level of engagement and respect when a private company is calling the shots?
It would be unfortunate if the poor reputation of the skate park dulls the council’s or Foodstuffs’ responsiveness to the needs of the skate park users.
No doubt there are a few bad apples, and I’m more guilty than most when it comes to facetiously blaming ‘‘ Whitby youth’’ for every suburban ill under the sun, whether it be a car engine roaring late at night, a rubbish bin toppling over, or a bag of dog poo hanging in a tree. (What’s with that?)
But seriously, what adults see as ‘‘loitering’’ at the skate park is usually kids just hanging out.
And as an ‘‘informal sport’’ user – as described in the council report – skate park users don’t have the collective clout of an organised sport when it comes to making their presence and needs known.
Here’s hoping Foodstuffs’ makes the effort to involve them in the process and give them a sense of ownership in the skate park.