The working party behind the planned revamp and upgrade of the Eden skate park says the project will create a greater sense of community among the town’s young people.
Spearheaded by local not-for-profit agency Campbell Page, the working party held a community feedback forum last Thursday as part of National Youth Week, in order to gather information from all parties as it works towards preparing a proposal for the Bega Valley Shire Council.
Among the issues discussed was the need to nail down exact dimensions for the revamped park and a funding commitment from Council, with one of the major objectives of the project being to steer youth away from the old tuna cannery site.
Local skater Reece Warren said the cannery site is a more popular alternative to the existing park for many young people, but poses significant dangers including broken glass, fragments of rocks and broken piping.
Campbell Page Eden team leader Kaye Bullen agreed, and said the new park would create a more positive culture.
“The aim of this community forum is to look at the old plan, get community input from the locals and some professional skaters, as well as the local tradies and Finn Askew, who has designed skate parks including the one at Pambula,” she said.
“This is just about getting everyone’s ideas together through our surveys, support list and ideas sheet, so that we can get the new plans drawn up.”
The group agreed that the planned park would need to cater for the whole community, and said that the revamp does not necessarily involve demolishing the existing skate park.
The skaters said some of the most popular parks around Australia have been added to over time, creating a safer environment where skaters of different skill levels each have a section suited to their needs.
Reece said he has spoken to renowned skate park designers including Luke Brown and Finn Askew about the project, and also believes the long-term prospects for a new park are illustrated by the continued success of the Pambula skate park.
“We don’t want some big, crazy park where everything is huge and built for professional skateboarders; it needs to be for the whole community to use,” Reece said.
“We normally head up to Pambula about an hour-and-a-half before dark when there aren’t as many people, but the other day it was absolutely chock-a-block with kids, families and older guys.
“It’s been there for eight years but it's still getting used so much, and people come from all over the place and stay at the caravan park just to skate there.
“Skateboarding Australia also do coaching clinics, where they get the Council to pay a small fee to have professional teachers come to the park with all the gear.
“I’ve been to a few and helped out, and they’re absolutely packed out, and the kids love it.”
Kaye echoed his sentiments.
“We’ll have a central place that is going to appeal to young people and families, where we can hold events, opening the door to future possibilities such as a beach cafe,” she said.
“We could end up with a community mural or youth-friendly graffiti wall; just a really good place for people to go."
She also said Campbell Page and Eden Marine High School may connect young people to the project to encourage greater ownership and community involvement.
“There are a lot of things that can go into it, which will make it a really community supported place,” she said.
Eden tradesperson Zac Robin also volunteered his services in helping to carry out building, and said finding labour would not be an issue for the working party, with several local builders keen to lend a hand.
A Council spokesperson said on Tuesday that the existing skate park site has been approved for development, with the door open to extending the current structure, but the exact dimensions and level of funding are yet to be determined.
Councillor Sharon Tapscott has lent her support to the working party, and said she is happy to advocate for them with Council.
“I’ve had conversations with (the working party) in the past, and I’m definitely on board with trying to help out,” she said.
“Clearly skate parks have been well-received wherever they go, and they definitely get used a lot.
“It would just be a matter of working to make sure it meets the requirements of what is needed and that it is well-maintained.”