On 10th December 2007 Clover Moore used her casting vote to lock out young people who want to use their skate boards in Prince Alfred Park. The first time that Councillors heard that the skate plaza was to be deleted was at a briefing on Monday 26th November. It had been in the masterplan from the first draft. It looks like the voices who regard young skaters as “undesirable” have been most loudly heard by the Lord Mayor.
In 2006 the City conducted two community consultation meetings at Redfern Town Hall where residents were asked to nominate the facilities that they wanted to see in the park. At the first meeting residents supported the provision of skating facilities and a group of young people turned up and spoke of their desire for a modern skate facility in the park. I personally attended that meeting and I am very disappointed that the submissions of young people and the recommendations of a council funded ‘Skate Facility Needs Study’ have been ignored.
In July 2006 Council unanimously endorsed an independent study into skating facilities in the City of Sydney. This study recommended a skate facility as a priority in Prince Alfred Park. When I pointed this out at the council meeting the only reason given by the Clover Moore Party was that it considered that there would be an over-abundance of hard surfaces if the skate park was included. If increased hard surface is an issue then why are we increasing the number of tennis courts from three to five? Anyone who uses the park knows that most of the park, aside from the pool area, is grassy open space. The skate park will use only a small fraction of that space.
There is clearly a pressing need. The ‘Skate Facility Needs Study’ points out that 20.2% of the City population is aged 12-24 years and finds that ‘The current state of facilities also does not encourage use by generalist young people and local students.’ The report goes on to recommend that ‘best practice research has shown that these spaces are most successfully located in multi-purpose facilities, co-located with other programs and services that will attract young people… Recent research has identified that they would prefer to share public space and community facilities than be isolated from them.’ The report also nominates the best sites as ‘Providing youth facilities in safe, visible locations, near public transport’
Staff previously told councilors that community facilities should be multi-use to be most effective and now they are saying that they will investigate Belmore Park, Victoria Park and Hay St Plaza. However, there are no other youth facilities in these locations so this is contrary to what council knows is best practice. Plus, the City doesn’t even own Hay St Plaza – it is owned by SHFA.”
Prince Alfred Park is ideal for a skate facility. The park contains a swimming pool, tennis courts and a very well used basketball court area. Plus it is right next door to Central railway station. Perfect for city based kids and those who travel to the city to skate.
I am very concerned that prejudice is holding sway here because the arguments against the skate park just don’t make any sense. The Lord Mayor should be including the young people of Sydney who want to skate not shutting them out.
Link to council report: council-report-skating-needs.pdf
Link to independent consultant report: independent-report-skating-needs.pdf