Listening, working with community

NEWHAVEN residents are protesting the construction of a competition grade skate park at a local reserve.
Residents are against the proposed plans for a regional skating hub at Richard Grayden Memorial Reserve – on the right just as you come over the bridge onto Phillip Island.
The skate park was supposed to be built at San Remo, but the proposal was abandoned after council realised there was underground infrastructure.
There’s already a small skate park at the reserve, but council wants to build a facility capable of holding large interstate competitions and events.
“The greater percentage of the locals in New-haven, which are mainly childless couples – there are a few children – are opposed to it,” said Newhaven resident Phil Bagley, at an information session at the reserve last Tuesday.
“This is a children’s playground and a traveller’s picnic ground.
“The last thing they want is to have a 1000m² of concrete.”
Locals have also questioned why Newhaven has been chosen for a skate park, despite lots more youth living in the Cowes and Wonthaggi districts.
Newhaven resident Thirza Titchen said New-haven has an older demographic.
The median age for Newhaven residents is 54, according to the 2016 Census.
“So why would we want a skate park in New-haven?
“We’re an older, very small population.
“It just doesn’t make any sense to me to have a skate park in an area with an older demographic, on the highway, with hardly any skaters here.
“It would seem much more sensible to have it in Cowes or Wonthaggi, or third choice would be Cape Woolamai, where there are lots of younger families with kids who skate.
“The argument is that Newhaven is a central position in the shire for people to travel to… but that doesn’t make any sense either because everyone has to travel to get here.
“If you had it in an area where there are lots of skaters, then they wouldn’t need to travel.”
Phil added that the council recently declared a ‘climate emergency’.
“And according to that, you shouldn’t be running your kids around the countryside,” said Phil.
Another Newhaven resident, Donna Rule, raised concerns about the appearance of the entrance to Phillip Island.
“To me, it’s like putting a trampoline in an old people’s home.
“We already have a boat ramp which, on weekends, has up to 200 boats and trailers parked in Newhaven.
“This park is usually full of people having picnics on long weekends.”

The Bass Coast Shire Skate Strategy 2018-2020 states “construction of a regional hub in San Remo/Newhaven area will respond to the current community needs and requirements as well as future projected youth population increase in the region”.
The strategy also states that the regional hub will bring the Bass Coast skate infrastructure in line with the surrounding municipalities and provide for the large tourism population fluctuations.
It would also “contribute to the local economy and establish the Bass Coast as a youth destination which is in line with the world-renowned surf culture and natural environment of the region”.
According to the strategy, the location should be a “high profile iconic setting which celebrates and highlights the shire’s natural environment, creating a ‘draw card’ destination”.
“The site should be capable of holding large interstate competitions and events with enough space to create a multifunctional mixed style skate space,” the strategy states.