East­bourne gets skate ramp af­ter heated de­bate

The Hutt News - - FRONT PAGE - NI­CHOLAS BOYACK

Don’t treat crim­i­nals.

That was the plea made by 35-year-old Blair Hef­fer­nan to mem­bers of the East­bourne Com­mu­nity Board, de­bat­ing the lo­ca­tion of a skate ramp.

On Novem­ber 7 more than 60 peo­ple heard a range of sub­mis­sions from sup­port­ers and op­po­nents of the fa­cil­ity for eight to 12 year-olds.

The op­po­nents were mostly older and ar­gued the pro­posed site, on ten­nis courts next to San An­to­nio School, was the wrong one and would be too noisy for neigh­bours.

They ar­gued that Bishop Park was more suit­able as it was away from houses and there were fa­cil­i­ties such as toi­lets and an ice cream shop.

An emo­tional Wendy Pharazyn said she al­ready had to put up with a lot of noise from the ten­nis courts.

She pre­dicted it would get worse if there was a ramp.

‘‘I have thought about sell­ing my house and leav­ing East­bourne, which has been such an im­por­tant part of my life.’’

Hef­fer­nan called for tol­er­ance and urged the meet­ing to re­mem­ber the is­sue was about pro­vid­ing a fa­cil­ity for young chil­dren.

‘‘Skate­board­ing is not a crime, it is a pas­sion.

‘‘I have been do­ing it for 30 years and it does not in­volve any crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity ... we are all adults but it is not about us, it is about youth. It is not a crime, like ev­ery­one is mak­ing it out to be.’’

David McDougall said the coun­cil was treat­ing neigh­bours like ‘‘sac­ri­fi­cial lambs’’ by putting the ramp near res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties.

He did not want his re­tire­ment years ‘‘ru­ined’’ by the sound of skate­board­ing.

‘‘I am not only dis­ap­pointed, I am out­raged.’’

He sang the Flower of Scot­land to re­in­force his point. Later in the meet­ing he and his wife, Ju­dith, walked out af­ter be­ing asked not to in­ter­rupt.

Parks man­ager Bruce Hod­gins said the pro­posal was in line with coun­cil pol­icy.

‘‘We want to get chil­dren away from screens. We want to them get out­side and do things that are a lit­tle more risky. It is healthy for so­ci­ety.’’ skate­board­ers like

The re­serve that was un­der utilised was the best op­tion, he said. Parks gen­er­ate noise and res­i­dents had to ex­pect that, when they lived nearby.

Board chair Vir­ginia Hor­rocks said the is­sue had caused ‘‘strong di­vi­sions’’ in the com­mu­nity and both sides had shown a lack of re­spect to­wards those they dis­agreed with.

It was now time for ‘‘kind­ness’’ and for peo­ple to re­spect al­ter­na­tive views, she said.

The board had re­ceived let­ters of sup­port from the nearby school, church, Lions club and a lo­cal youth trust.

Board mem­ber Mur­ray Gib­bons said it was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion but he sup­ported the pro­posal.

‘‘We are here to try and find a way to sup­port the youth and the el­derly. No mat­ter what we do, we will be damned if we do and damned if we don’t.’’

The board agreed to sup­port the pro­posal.

Hod­gins said the new ramp was un­likely to be in­stalled be­fore next win­ter, as plant­ing was re­quired to help mit­i­gate the noise.

Af­ter the meet­ing, Hef­fer­nan said he was de­lighted by the de­ci­sion.

‘‘It was very pos­i­tive. It is an ac­tiv­ity, a pas­sion. Like I said, it is not a crime.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.