A 15-year-old patron doing a backflip at the controversial Torquay Rd skate park. Photo: Cody Fox
A 15-year-old patron doing a backflip at the controversial Torquay Rd skate park. Photo: Cody Fox

SKATE DEBATE: Decision made on controversial park’s future

THE Torquay Rd Skate Park in Hervey Bay will not be demolished but reaching that decision did not come without a divisive debate over the site's social impact.

At least one councillor believed the concrete eyesore was a haven for undesirables and was negatively impacting surrounding businesses.

Others hit back saying larger social issues could not be blamed on a spot which had become a haven for the Coast's young people.

The resounding opinion was a $550,000 asset should not be demolished within its usable lifetime and provided an opportunity to connect young people with positive programs.

Fraser Coast councillors voted at Wednesday's meeting to keep the 17-year-old site.

The council opened a new Pialba skate park in September this year, which was originally touted as a replacement for the larger Torquay Rd facility.

The Torquay Rd skate park was previously identified as a "future green space" and $70,000 was earmarked in the Open Space and Environment capital budget.

 

A 15-year-old patron doing a backflip at the controversial Torquay Rd skate park. Photo: Cody Fox
A 15-year-old patron doing a backflip at the controversial Torquay Rd skate park. Photo: Cody Fox

 

In a report submitted to the council, an officer said the allocated funds would be adequate to demolish the site, undertake landscaping or minor repairs and implement measures to discourage "anti-social" behaviour.

The report references local business owners and some members of the public, expressing concerns about anti-social behaviour associated with the Torquay Rd skate park.

It is estimated it costs the council $24,000 to maintain the site due to Parks Operations teams' regular call-outs to repair equipment and remove broken glass and graffiti.

Council workers have also found evidence of prolific drug use and said the toilet block designs facilitated this behaviour. The motion will also see funds channelled into strategies to manage "undesirable activities".

Suggested actions included improving lighting as well as the application of anti-graffiti paint on adjacent buildings to assist with the immediate removal of offensive tags.

Other strategy ideas listed were working groups involving community support people, youth justice and police, as well as changing the toilet facilities and installing more CCTV cameras.

During discussions, councillor Stuart Taylor, who moved the motion to not demolish the park, said it was imperative to let young people know the council valued them.

"Just by creating another space for them to use doesn't mean we are going to demolish this one - if we build a playground in Urangan we don't demolish one in Torquay," he said.

"Do we punish the skaters for the actions of just a few?

"Having been down there, I am amazed at the athleticism of the people who use the park. Imagine if we embraced them?"

Councillor Darren Everard spoke about being involved in the consultation process for the new Pialba skate park and the fact it had already been communicated clearly to stakeholders the Torquay Rd park would be shut down.

"There have been countless issues with vandalism on the adjoining buildings," he said.

Mayor George Seymour said if it was so certain the people using the skate park were behind crime in the area, they should be reported to the police.

"It has been there for 17 years which substantially predates the large commercial premise which has been built next door," he said.

Councillor Rolf Light said the anti-social behaviour associated with the skate park was not in line with the council's goals, adding from what he had seen, it was not a place he would allow his grandchildren to go.