Sunday, 05 July 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Another decade, another plan for Tairua’s elusive skate park

Tairua’s decades long dream of a skatepark for the town’s young people is once again alive with a new design process about to begin in consultation with the community.

Nine years after plans for a skate facility at Cory Park domain were abandoned under the threat of legal action, a report has concluded it is the correct and possibly only viable location for the park and an early outline has just been given the green light from the Tairua-Pauanui Community Board.

“We are still at early stages and will be involving and working alongside nearby residents regarding the overall planning, design and landscaping for any facility if it proceeds,” said project manager, Ross Ashby from Thames-Coromandel District Council. “Regardless of any requirement for planning consent, we believe it is best practice that all stakeholders are involved in any final plan and any issues can be addressed early.”

In 2011, fears around potential litigation saw TCDC drop the skatepark in favour of alternative recreational equipment at what was labelled the “Tairua Youth Zone,” adjacent to the tennis/netball courts and the sports field on Manaia Road. However, since then, there have been changes to the TCDC District Plan providing specifically for active recreation activities at Cory Park. A comprehensive report into location options concluded there were “no significant compliance issues” with developing a skate park at the site. “Cory Park is the main sporting hub in Tairua and is the only active recreation zoned park in the town that provides for formal recreational activities such as soccer, rugby, tennis and (potentially) community skating facilities,” the report said.

As currently outlined, the development would be adjacent to the tennis courts and would initially consist of a 400sqm streetstyle skate park at an estimated cost of $164,000. Potential future additions include a skate bowl, a basketball half-court and a seating area.

Mr Ashby said users had already been consulted as part of the location study and Cork Park was their preferred option. “We know skateparks can be contentious as not everyone supports them, especially around perceived issues of safety and noise, and possible anti-social behaviour,” he said. “That's why we’re keen to work with the Tairua skate community and surrounding residents so everyone has ownership and responsibility for the facility. The skate facility will be designed for all ages and located in a prominent, well used sports ground. We will look at working with the Tairua Rugby Club who are looking to purchase and install CCTV cameras.   

“If the skatepark progresses, the design will be of a high quality, incorporate seating and some landscaping, and be built of concrete, which is quieter than wood, more durable and requires less maintenance. Concrete can also be coloured and we can work with surrounding residents to locate features and incorporate landscaping and earthworks to alleviate any perceived noise issues.” 

Noise was a particular focus of previous objections back in 2011, however, according to Mr Ashby, perceptions around noise from skateparks often differ from reality. “Skatepark noise, according to almost every study conducted on the subject, consistently falls well below ordinary recreational standards,” he said. “However, sounds from some tricks like ollies could reach similar noise levels as the sound of a bat hitting a ball. In general, a skatepark is about as noisy as a playground.”

Funding for the project has been provided TCDC’s draft Annual Plan for the coming financial year which councillors will deliberate on, starting this week, with a view to adopting a final version on 23 June. The Tairua-Pauanui Community Board has asked staff to progress development of a detailed design involving key users, stakeholders and adjoining residents.

Pictured: An outline plan of the proposed skatepark at Cory Park Domain in Tairua.

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