Skaters up in air as council dithers on park site selection

Berrambool Skatepark. Photo: Leah Szanto
Berrambool Skatepark. Photo: Leah Szanto

A decision on a new skate park for Merimbula is still up in the air following council's meeting last week.

The debate over location has divided town with the Sapphire Coast Skatepark Association favouring a new facility at Ford Park, while the Merimbula Lions Club is pushing for redeveloping the existing - but rundown - site at Berrambool Oval.

Cr Mitchell Nadin had tabled a motion proposing the two groups put forward their concept plans for consideration by council, acknowledging each group was covering any associated costs to develop the plans, not council.

Rather than agree to that motion, a convoluted discussion on motion amendments and foreshadowed alternatives ensued, before Cr Nadin's motion was eventually lost.

What council voted for instead was to seek a report into the costs of a traffic and parking impact study at Fishpen. Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick's motion to that effect passed 5-2, with Crs Nadin and Robyn Bain against.

To clarify, that motion does not mean a traffic study was going ahead, just that the cost of one was to be explored. A council spokesperson confirmed the study was not budgeted for in the 2021-22 financial year.

While Merimbula already has a skatepark at Berrambool Oval, it has been acknowledged it is due for renewal. Photo: Leah Szanto

While Merimbula already has a skatepark at Berrambool Oval, it has been acknowledged it is due for renewal. Photo: Leah Szanto

Council also confirmed to the Merimbula News Weekly a traffic impact study was not completed prior to the redevelopment of Ford Park's playground and the use of the oval for regular markets and so on, because "the playground and courts project were upgrades to assets existing in the area".

It was unclear if the results of a traffic and parking impact study would affect the holding of such events at Ford Park should the assessment indicate concerns.

President of the Sapphire Coast Skatepark Association Peter O'Keefe said he was understandably disappointed in the decision.

"If a decision to endorse Ford Oval can't be supported, then at the very least the motion set by Cr Nadin at the last meeting should be," Mr O'Keefe said.

"This offers a plan and timeline for both groups and just as importantly if a parking study is undertaken then council will have all the relevant information regarding the skatepark size and patronage figures essential to recovering the most accurate outcome of the assessment."

He said if there was already a belief Fishpen had parking and traffic problems, then why not spend the money on solutions rather than a study to tell council what it already knows.

As for a new skate park - "we're left nowhere" Mr O'Keefe said.

"Whether at Ford Park, Rotary Park, Berrambool - there's money out there right now to build this, but we can't get our hands on it until council decides on a site."

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This story Skaters up in air as council dithers on park site selection first appeared on Merimbula News Weekly.