11 June 2021

Push for new skatepark in Merimbula to replace current, 'unsafe' park

| Albert McKnight
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Merimbula Skatepark

Merimbula Skatepark has been seen to fill up with water when it rains. Photo: Supplied.

Locals say the Merimbula Skatepark is badly in need of repairs and a recent fundraiser has given a massive boost to those hoping to redevelop the park.

Sapphire Coast Skatepark Association (SCSA) president Pete O’Keefe said the skatepark, which is at the town’s Berrambool Oval, was unsafe, run down and one of the worst-rated skateparks in Australia.

He said rain flooded the park and children that still skated there were limited to what they could use.

“The kids have got nothing else to to use so they still make something out of nothing I guess,” he said.

SCSA is not alone in its thoughts on the skatepark with a recent GoFundMe fundraiser aiming to raise money for a redevelopment pulling in about $23,000.

“It’s unbelievable,” Mr O’Keefe said.

“It showcases the amount of support we have for the project.”

He said the next stage of the process, which the money will be used for, is concept design, saying the Bega Valley Shire Council needed to approve a site for a new skatepark or provide its in-principal support for them to move forward.

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Mr O’Keefe said out of 12 sites that had been assessed, Merimbula’s Ford Oval was the best place for a new skatepark due to the safety it provided for children by being in the open as well as the economic benefits that would come to the tourist accommodation in the area.

He aims for a new skatepark to be for beginner to intermediate skaters and built to a competition standard that would also have components for other community members such as a basketball court.

“It would provide the kids with the infrastructure they so badly need for their scooting, skating and bike riding,” he said.

“It would also be a massive magnet for the area for tourists.”

But a Bega Valley Shire Council spokesperson told Region Media the redevelopment of the Merimbula Skatepark had been deferred and council’s focus was on renewing the Eden Skatepark at Barclay Street.

“Council currently has a very high capital works program,” they said.

“Developing a new skatepark in Merimbula is not a priority at present.”

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While the association believes Ford Oval is the best site for the new skatepark, the spokesperson said a recent council report found there were differing views in the community regarding a preferred location.

They also said as the project has been deferred, council has no current plans to use to $23,000 raised by the association.

Mr O’Keefe said councillors will discuss the skatepark at a meeting on 16 June.

You can learn more about SCSA at its Facebook page by clicking here.

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