COUNCIL couldn’t win last Wednesday.
Opinion about where to locate the $1.3 million regional skate park, at Grayden’s Reserve in Newhaven or somewhere else, seems to be split right down the middle.
But with the public gallery in the Cowes Cultural Centre packed with supporters of both positions, the skateboarders and their parents in one corner, and local residents in the other, the council voted.
And they voted to reject an offer put by Cr Pam Rothfield and Cr Michael Whelan to defer the Newhaven site while looking at alternatives.
Instead a majority voted in favour of going ahead to “authorise Grayden’s Reserve in
Newhaven as the location for the Regional Skate and Playspace Project”.
Unless there’s a seismic shift now, they’ll be skating there by next Christmas.
Bass Coast Council will now ask the responsible Minister to continue with the SRV Major Facilities Grant of $650,000 towards the overall cost of $1.3 million.
Manager Strategic Planning and Development at the shire, Jodi Kennedy, prefaced the council debate by saying public consultation had revealed strong conflict over the Newhaven choice, after the San Remo site had been ruled out.
“Of the 258 submissions received, 153 were in favour, 95 opposed and 12 undecided. However, 268 people signed a petition against the Newhaven site, 84 letters of support were received and 15 opposed.”
It was not revealed how many Newhaven residents are against their park being turned over to skateboarding but it is believed numbers are running high.
Of the 16 questions put to council at the start of last week’s meeting, 10 were about the skatepark.
Thirza Titchen accused council of poor community consultation and of upsetting Newhaven residents.
John Trigt wants to see a graph showing the attitude of Newhaven residents, for or against.
Gemma Van Cuylenburg wanted to know who will be responsible if children or pedestrians are knocked over accessing the skate park located on a busy road.
Donna Rule claimed documents showed Grayden’s Reserve was unsuitable.
All councillors, it seemed, wanted to have their say as well.
Cr Rothfield asked why rush a decision on Grayden’s Reserve, claiming a bigger site than Grayden’s Reserve was needed to accommodate all requirements.
“It’s only a 3000sqm site and with the canopy of trees, the only place it can go is the southeast corner where the play equipment is located. That will have to be replaced leaving only a small area of open space. It smacks of desperation,” Cr Rothfield said.
Cr Whelan said the Carnival Land at Cowes would be best, but Cr Kent said Cowes was outside the 40km radius criteria for a regional skate park.
Cr Fullarton agreed Cowes was the right place but Cr Brown said it would be years before it could be built in Cowes.
Cr Le Serve said: “Get on with it!” And they did, voting for Grayden’s Reserve, much to the delight of the skateboarders and families who clapped and cheered the outcome before filing out of the meeting.