Park draft gets ring­ing ho-hum

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By MATTHEW DAL­LAS

The early de­sign for a new Whitby skatepark has been down­played, and just as well – the skate­board­ers hate it.

Food­stuffs prop­erty de­vel­op­ment man­ager Mark Lash fronted up at a com­mu­nity meet­ing at St Mary’s Church re­cently to dis­cuss the fu­ture of the skatepark and bas­ket­ball half-court, which will be im­pacted by the con­struc­tion of a 3000 square me­tre New World su­per­mar­ket next to Ad­ven­ture Park.

Ear­lier this year Porirua City Coun­cil handed over re­spon­si­bil­ity for the project to Food­stuffs, who will pay for designs and the park’s re­lo­ca­tion to a re­serve fur­ther north on Dis­cov­ery Dr or up­grade the ex­ist­ing fa­cil­ity. The coun­cil must still sign off on final designs.

More than 30 peo­ple at­tended the May 15 meet­ing and few expressed con­cern about the park’s lo­ca­tion. What skate­board­ers did want to dis­cuss was the qual­ity of de­sign – some­thing they found to be lack­ing in the draft plans pub­lished in KapiMana News last month.

Porirua Ac­tion Sports As­so­ci­a­tion spokesper­son Cam Smith said the de­sign was ‘‘ dis­heart­en­ing’’, while Pare­mata skate­boarder Kevin Fran­cis was equally un­der­whelmed.

‘‘This is an awe­some op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. This plan looks like ev­ery other skatepark – pos­si­bly worse.’’

Most of the crit­i­cism con­cerned the diminu­tive mini-ramp, poor in­te­gra­tion with the half-court, and a gen­eral lack of imag­i­na­tion.

Mr Lash said the draft plan was just that – a draft – and that its main func­tion was to demon­strate a skatepark could be built in the new space. It was still Food­stuffs’ in­ten­tion to em­ploy a de­signer favoured by skate­board­ers – ei­ther Jim Blas or Ja­son Parkes.

Sev­eral skate­board­ers queried whether the de­signer would also be charged with the park’s con­struc­tion. Mr Lash said it would be more cost­ef­fec­tive if Food­stuffs used its own con­trac­tors as they would be on site build­ing the su­per­mar­ket.

‘‘That ap­proach has been done more than once, a park is de­signed by skatepark de­signer, only for a lo­cal contractor to screw it up,’’ Mr Smith said.

His con­cerns were shared by sev­eral oth­ers who had found the best de­signed skatepark on pa­per could be un­us­able in re­al­ity if sur- face an­gles and ma­te­ri­als weren’t cor­rect.

Mr Lash said it was Food­stuff’s pref­er­ence to re­lo­cate the skatepark as it would al­low more space for the su­per­mar­ket foyer, but up­grad­ing the ex­ist­ing park was still an op­tion. Bud­gets for ei­ther op­tion had not been set.

He said if a new skatepark was built it would be com­pleted be­fore the old one was de­mol­ished.

Sev­eral skate­board­ers saw an op­por­tu­nity for Food­stuffs to cre­ate ‘‘ some­thing spe­cial’’, a draw­card that could at­tract skate­board­ers from through­out the re­gion, if not fur­ther.

Mr Fran­cis sug­gested a cov­ered skatepark which, given Welling­ton’s cli­mate, would hold great ap­peal. But af­ter the meet­ing he also said a small park the size of the church room could be amaz­ing if de­signed right.

PASA chair­man Joel Mid­dle­miss shared his sen­ti­ments.

‘‘They could make some­thing that is a draw­card. New World can have its name syn­ony­mous with do­ing some­thing pos­i­tive for this com­mu­nity.’’

Lo­ca­tion of the park was largely a non is­sue, but there was merit in retaining the park next to the su­per­mar­ket.

‘‘Skate­board­ers know the more the park is in public, the less they have to deal with other stuff (an­ti­so­cial ac­tiv­ity).’’

Mr Mid­dle­miss said the most spent on great skateparks in Auck­land was $1 mil­lion to $2m, but lo­cal skate­board­ers were re­al­is­tic.

‘‘They could spend a lot less and just make an amaz­ing mini-ramp. If they repli­cated the one in Karori, which was made with Skatelite (a durable ramp sur­face), it would still get peo­ple to it. But that’s a worst case sce­nario.’’

Just a draft: The early de­sign for the new Whitby skate­board park has drawn con­ster­na­tion from skate­board­ers but Food­stuffs claims its pur­pose was just to show a skatepark could be built in the small re­serve.

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