Opposition to skate ramp voiced at Eastbourne community meeting

A proposed skate park for Eastbourne got unanimous support at a public meeting last week.

The meeting, held at the Eastbourne Rugby Club on March 29, saw an overwhelming majority of residents in support of the proposal. However, a small, but vocal opposition emerged.

Eastbourne Community Board chairperson Anna Sutherland said the vision of the board was to increase the facilities available to Eastbourne’s youth and secure public support and funding for the skate ramp.

“We have the bush, the sea and the rec, but we are definitely light on amenities,” she said.

The board proposed the construction of an 8.8 metre by six metre ramp across 80 square metres of council-owned land between San Antonio School, the Eastbourne Bowling Club and Eastbourne Community Centre.

The ramp proposal was put to the public in a Facebook poll in October last year, with 129 (97%) people in support and four (3%) opposed.

At the meeting, Tuatoru Steet resident Margaret Martin stressed a clear bias in the survey. She said Facebook only appealed to the younger generation and many of the elderly residents did not have a say.

She also said noise was the primary concern of those opposing the construction.

“I acknowledge it is a recreation area, but it’s like the thump of a bass on a stereo when the skateboards hit the ground, so I’m very anxious about the whole thing,” she said.

However, a 2001 Hutt City Council report on options for a skate park in Eastbourne said noise generated would be unlikely to reach levels the council would have to control.

The site was chosen because it was vacant and large enough for a skate park.

Other possible locations for the ramp included Bishop Park, Shortt Park, Williams Park, Days Bay and Burden’s gate.

A San Antonio teacher and Eastbourne youth worker both voiced their support for getting children off the streets and into more productive physical activities.

Project advocate Matthew Hayes drew comparisons to the Petone ramp which has stood strong for 25 years, and noted the suitability of the proposed area.

He said that in 2012 a proposal for an Eastbourne skate park was declined, and urged residents to think of the ramp as a safe outlet for the younger generation.

“It will provide for a range of children’s personalities, you don’t have to be sporty. The kids will be able to foster their independence and get out on their own.” he said.

He also acknowledged the perceptions around teenage behavior and skateboarding.

“Crime at public facilities usually correlates to the community’s crime rates. We don’t have high crime rates here, and I don’t think you can attribute a skate ramp to [worsening] these issues.”

The meeting concluded with a unanimous show of hands in support of the ramp.

After the meeting Hutt city councillor Craig Cottrill said it would support the community in whichever decision it made.

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Article by Dane Ambler

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