Get your skates on!

Riders left in the lurch as council faffs about

A GROUP of skaters and BMXers say they’re “utterly dismayed” Bayswater council has delayed a decision to replace the Wotton Reserve skate and BMX park.

The Bayswater Skate Park Community group formed after hearing the Wotton Reserve park would have to be removed for Metronet’s train line upgrades, with closure coming as early as March 2021.

After some pondering and consulting, BSPC has settled on Broun Park in Embleton as the preferred spot for the relocation. It’s an open and well-lit site, close to public transport, close to where current Wotton Park users live, and has enough space for it to be a “community hub” rather than just a concrete track. 

Implored

All along they’ve implored Bayswater council to act swiftly on a replacement, not wanting skaters and riders to be left without a park for years. 

Pro BMXer Todd Meyn told the council back in March continuity was vital for kids getting into the sport. He honed his skills at Wotton Reserve as a kid and said; “I wouldn’t be in the position where I am today, to be doing what I’m doing, if I didn’t have the skate park down the road from me.”

Members from BSPC sit on the council’s skate park committee alongside four councillors, and that committee has recommended the full council endorse the Broun Park option. That recommendation was supposed to go to the December 8 council meeting for endorsement, with the detailed design to go out for consultation.

But at the November 24 council meeting a majority of councillors decided to hold off on a decision until February next year.

Cr Barry McKenna said they should take their time as “there’s going to be a lot more consultation going to be needed” and he wanted state government funding squared away in the council’s bank account before settling on a location. He said December was a bad time for consultation and he didn’t want this rushed through over the holidays. 

There’s been a couple of petitions going around against each of the locations.

Cr Sally Palmer said they needed to very carefully consider this, as moving the skate and BMX facility there would mean “losing” a park in central ward, and two of the three central ward councillors would’ve been away in December. 

Crs Catherine Ehrhardt, Steven Ostaszewskyj and Michelle Sutherland disagreed with the deferral but were outvoted seven to three. 

BSPC member Josh Eveson says the group “is utterly dismayed and in disbelief that this pivotal decision on the future location of the skatepark has been delayed.

“Council’s decision means they are left waiting until February, with the demolition possible as early as March, just one month later,” and they could end up with a year or longer period without a skatepark.

“This will most definitely have a negative effect on young people and young families within the community and surrounding areas.”

A Bayswater staffer advised councillors this decision would add three months’ delay to the nine or so months of work to be done, and would push back a new skatepark opening until at least November or December 2021.

by DAVID BELL

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