Park draft gets ringing ho-hum
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.