From the Newsroom

Yamba Skate School’s Sonny Ingledew said expanding the skatepark would benefit all who use it. “The existing park is too small,” he says. “It doesn’t have the capacity to deal with large numbers of people. Once the upgrade is completed, it will provide advanced skaters with more space, make it safer for kids and allow skaters to develop higher skill levels – it’s very basic at the moment.” Image: CVC

The bowl is back; Yamba skatepark’s long and winding ramp

Geoff Helisma

Clarence Valley council (CVC) has awarded a $575,000 (Inc GST) contract to Concrete Skateparks Pty Ltd to complete the Yamba skate park, courtesy of a $500,000 federal government Local Roads & Community Infrastructure Fund Round 2 grant – CVC is contributing $100,000 towards the project.

The skatepark has had a chequered history: the original skatepark was designed, built and funded by community members ($33k, with CVC contributing $66k) – it took almost a quarter of a century to turn the idea into reality.

“After 22 years, the first bucket of concrete is down,” said the skatepark committee’s publicity officer, Bobby McCaughey, in October 2006. “It should be finished by Christmas if the volunteers turn up.”

They did, and it was.

However, by late 2010 the bowl was deteriorating, and CVC allocated $150,000 towards its repair.

A report to the December 2010 CVC meeting stated: “It is believed that its positioning over a natural spring has contributed to pooling of water in some areas, misalignment of adjoining surfaces where sections have subsided, cracks across the surface, rusting of parts of the reinforcement and subsequent degrading of parts of the surface.”

Coincidentally, the $1.7 million federally-funded Out of the Box initiative had sprung in the Clarence Valley and CVC assured the community that “complete demolition” of the skatepark was not under consideration.

“We’re unsure of the extent of work that will be required,” said CVC’s then social planning and cultural development manager Anne D’Arcy.

Come Black Friday, April 13, 2010, though, a distraught skateboard committee watched the product of their toil demolished.

Coincidently, this was happening at the same time as the skatepark (as it is now) was being constructed, which, acting on advice from the company building the park, Ms D’Arcy said was “a much cheaper way to get them to look at the whole park while they’re here”.

When asked why CVC had not overseen the original park’s construction by volunteers, in line with the council’s normal construction protocols, one of CVC’s deputy general managers, Rob Donges, said he was unable to comment; apart from saying, “It doesn’t appear to have happened.”

Reacting to the skatepark committee’s desire to reinstate the ‘bowl’, CVC’s other deputy general manager, Des Schroder, said the $150,000 was spent “taking out the western third of the skate park” to construct a half pipe that connects to the new Out of the Box section of the park.

“There’s no intention to put a bowl in there – the intention is to finish off the skate park and spend about another $70,000 on the existing [western] piece with some [half] pipes there,” he said.

Come May 2010, the Independent (then known as the Clarence Valley Review) reported: “Yamba SK8 Park, bring back its heart, bring back the bowl!” … that’s the demand from the Yamba SK8 Park Committee.

Skaters and the committee were angry, feeling like there desires had been ridden over … roughshod.

Cr Karen Toms told the Independent at the time: “…the depth of community ownership of the skate park facility was clearly demonstrated”.

“They clearly showed how they feel and how hurt they are that they were not consulted,” she said.

“There are some un-answered questions to that process, which I’m concerned about.

“It [the old park] had to go for safety reasons, but there’s no reason why we [the council] can’t reinstate it; my position is that we should replace it.”

A decade later and the skatepark committee’s vision will finally be realised.

Bobby McCaughey said the news that the park would be completed was “blinkin’ awesome”.

“It’s been a long time coming; it’s always good news when a promise is kept, even if it did take 10 years for the promise to be fulfilled,” she said.

All that remains to clear the way is agreement between CVC and Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation (YTOAC), in relation the Federal Court’s Yaegl People native title determinations.

A Yaegl spokesperson said CVC’s decision would be tabled at an upcoming meeting of its directors.

CVC’s general manager, Ashely Lindsay, said that the financial assessment regarding Concrete Skateparks’ current “voluntary administration” status would not be an issue.

The report to council points out that the company has won five contracts – valued at approximately $2,165,000 – since going into voluntary administration.