By OSCAR PERRI
The wait continues for skatepark users of Alice Springs as more COVID caused delays threaten to hold up repair work.
Alice Springs Town Council received the audit that was commissioned from highly regarded Melbourne skatepark building company Convic this month, which lays out the issues and potential future for the facility.
The skatepark was rated a “fail” on both condition and function in the audit.
The report says it will cost $30,00 to $40,000 to just fix the current damage, stating that a slippery skate surface area, surface chipping and major cracks are all a high safety risk.
The slippery surface area is caused by paint, which was recommended by Dulux for the purpose, applied by council in response to complaints about the cracking nearly a year ago.
At first a small area was painted and skaters were invited to test it out to a positive response, but council says that since then dust gathering on the surface has made it dangerously slippery.
Council have engaged a local contractor to sandblast the paint off, but are not going to do the work until another contractor is able to travel from regional Victoria to do specialist repair work on the chipped and cracked surface, as recommended by Convic.
The work is due to start on September 13, but with the current COVID situation in Victoria, that’s all up in the air.
Greg Barnes, who has been heavily involved with the group lobbying council for action, says that the audit validates their efforts. He says that all the group is after currently is for the paint to be removed, so the skatepark is at least in part usable.
“It’s what we have been saying to council fo months, but this council just moves like glue.”
He was sent the audit by someone from council to share with the group, but is not pleased with the communication coming from council to engage with skaters, which the audit notes is an important part of the process.
“There hasn’t been an official meeting or anything like that [since the audit was released].
“It’s supposedly coming up in a week or so, but there’s been no definite confirmation on that, it’s actually been a while since there’s been any official organised meeting with the skatepark users group.”
Beyond the repair work, the audit says that the skatepark has three to five years of life left before it needs major work to restore the surfaces and facilities, as well as bring it up to level with contemporary skating style.
“The current facility mainly caters for intermediate to advanced abilities with little provision for beginners,” the audit reads.
“It is a high speed traditional style park with limited provision for technical street style riding. Future development should aim to fill the gaps for both lack in skill level and riding style provision.”
It gives two options for how Alice Springs can best meet the needs of the community.
The first, at a cost just shy of $1m, is to repair and extend the existing park to meet the criteria of a “regional sized facility”, a step up from the current “district level”. This will also add 15 to 20 years to the lifespan of the facility.
The other option given is to build a new skatepark, once repairs to extend the current park’s life are completed. This will compliment the existing park to better service users of different abilities. Convic puts the figure for this project at $1,090,000 to $2,160,000.
Mr Barnes says the history books don’t give his group much confidence that the project will receive the attention that it needs, as skaters have been lobbying council for upgrades for decades.
The upgrade of skateboarding and BMX to Olympic sport status, and the recognition of local skateboarding legend and founder of Spinifex Skateboards, Nick Hayes, at the recent NAIDOC awards, flies in the face of the treatment the sport receives compared to others, Mr Barnes says.
“There is definitely a different approach to a golf club or a football club or a tennis club.
“They tend to have more infrastructure than our little skatepark, a small patch of land next to the pool.
“That’s certainly not in comparison to the size of the golf club, or the size of the oval, the big sports are played on and the buildings and all the other things that come around it.
“Getting it fixed to the point where we can actually use it for is all we’ve been asking for, and that’s been going on for nearly a year now. It’s not a massive ask and the reward for the community is enormous.
“You’re killing so many birds with one stone, and it doesn’t even takes that much planning or money to do it.
“It’s just about how you approach it and what you really want to do.
“Is it to try and tackle, boredom amongst young people, which also leads to a lifetime of opportunities and fun and community?
“It was a massive part of what helped me develop as a person, I can’t imagine my life without it to be honest.
“The skate park community want to create more opportunities for young people in this town, but without the infrastructure it’s hard to do.”
Photos Greg Barnes.
UPDATE: The Town Council have organised a meeting with the skatepark user group on Thursday this.