Yesterday Ballina Shire Council unanimously passed Greens councillor Jeff Johnson’s motion to start the process for a skate park for Wollongbar and Alstonville.
The move is long overdue, according to local resident and council candidate Dr Effie Ablett, who said that in door-knocking the area in recent weeks it is one thing that keeps coming up in her conversation with residents.
A local residents group, Wollongbar Alstonville Skate Park (WASP), is supporting the move.
Dr Ablett says based on 2011 census figures, the area has a similar number of teenage boys as Lennox Head, where a skate park was opened last year.
‘For 15- to 26-year-olds there were 605 in Lennox Head and 693 in Alstonville/Wollongbar. Wollongbar in particular has growing number of young families, and with the new housing estates and affordable housing in the area these figures are expected to rise,’ she told Echonetdaily.
It isn’t the first time that locals have tried to get a skate park up and running.
In the early 2000s, following a spike in antisocial behavior, Wayne Morcom took up coaching a group of local boys at the Apex pavilion in the showgrounds using a basic setup that the group built themselves.
But Mr Morcom said the facility was closed after one of the boys broke his arm using the equipment and sued the council.
Dr Ablett says graffiti and vandalism are on the rise again in the area and a skate park will show young boys they are valued.
‘Projects like these show young people that they matter and are big step in reducing antisocial behaviour. A skate park could also promote socialising at a younger age, which has also been shown to reduce antisocial behaviour. Providing a skate park is a way that Council can show the young people of Alstonville and Wollongbar that they are valued,’ she said.
There are several possibilities for different-sized skate parks in the area. A report by council staff into these possibilities is the first step.