Stink rink forces skaters into car park

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEWTSO

A young speed skater has been forced to train in a hard­ware store car park be­cause of the di­lap­i­dated state of his lo­cal rink.

‘‘Slip­pery’’ with ‘‘bumps and cracks’’ is how Hadley Beech, 16, de­scribed Lower Hutt’s Avalon Skat­ing Rink, which was built in the mid-1970s. He has had to look else­where to train as he tries to break into the New Zealand World Cham­pi­onships team headed for the Nether­lands this year.

With an in­door fa­cil­ity used by his Val­ley In­line Speed Skat­ing Club (VISS) too far away in Up­per Hutt, Beech, from Lower Hutt, and his club­mates have taken to train­ing in the Mitre 10 Mega car park in Pe­tone af­ter trad­ing hours.

‘‘We can’t train un­til the store has closed and all the staff have left.

‘‘By that time it’s pitch black out­side... The lights, they turn out every once and a while. Some­time we have them, some­times we don’t.’’

Beech said the ag­ing con­crete at the Avalon track was rid­dled with cracks and bumps mak­ing it too dan­ger­ous to use. It was also shorter than the stan­dard 200 me­tre track used in top-level com­pe­ti­tion.

VISS has joined with the Rimu­taka and Hutt City In­line hockey clubs to lobby the Hutt City Council for a new roller sports fa­cil­ity.

Rimu­taka In­line Hockey di­rec­tor of coach­ing Sandy Nimmo has made a sub­mis­sion to re­place the ‘‘ob­so­lete’’ fa­cil­ity in council’s long term plan.

As well as the track be­ing un­us­able, the in­te­rior con­crete pad was oc­cu­pied by a drain, gut­ter and lawn which made ac­tiv­i­ties like hockey im­pos­si­ble, she said.

A quote of around $500,000 for a new roller sports fa­cil­ity had been re­ceived by Nimmo which would in­clude the cost of re­mov­ing the old rink. The fa­cil­ity would in­clude a pad for ac­tiv­i­ties like learn­ing to skate and hockey, a speed skat­ing track and lights for night-time use.

She was con­fi­dent the speed skat­ing and hockey clubs would be able to as­sist in meet­ing some of the costs.

The fa­cil­ity would be a re­gional venue that could also be used to host in­ter­na­tional events.

A sim­i­lar rink built in Ti­maru had been a boon for lo­cal roller sports and had at­tracted this year’s Ocea­nia speed skat­ing cham­pi­onships, she said.

Di­vi­sional man­ager for parks and gar­dens Bruce Hodgins said the council was gen­er­ally sup­port­ive of Nimmo’s propo­si­tion, but did not con­sider it a pri­or­ity. Though the track was not in good con­di­tion there was cur­rently no fund­ing for it in the Long Term Plan.

He put the cost of a new fa­cil­ity at closer to $700,000.

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