Sydney skate parks grow despite local fear of anti-social behavior

Indigo Willing, associate researcher at the Griffith Center for Social and Cultural Research, said skateparks provide a place for teens who need a place to positively burn off their energy, as well as for adults who want to stay in shape.

Eight-year-old Dinn works on his skateboarding skills at the Sydney Park skate park.Credit:Brook Mitchell

Willing said skateboarding was not a crime and that opposition to skate parks was anti-youth and “unnecessary moral panic”.

“There is honestly more drinking and offensive language in a clubhouse on a golf course and risque or violent antics after a football game than anything in a skate park,” a- she declared.

Strident opposition from some residents delayed the construction of a skateboard facility at Rushcutters Bay, while Woollahra Council was forced to submit an application under heritage laws to build the skate park.

“Young people make up over 12 per cent of the population in the Woollahra region and it is clear there is a need for more local places for them to enjoy,” a council spokesman said. .

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Funding is also planned for a skate park in the Engadine.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan said their skate parks are making a positive contribution to the community.

“Anecdotally, we have received fewer complaints from the community and fewer reports of vandalism in these areas,” he said.

Lilyfield Skate Park was endorsed by Suellen Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the Greater Sydney Parklands Trust, who said: “The opportunity for young people to participate in popular outdoor activities contributes to both physical and mental well-being. “.

But the $1.4million proposal is still under a cloud after the owner of the Montage, which is close to the proposed location of the skate park, said he would seek legal advice.

Darren Kaehne said the inclusion of skateboarding in the Tokyo Olympics has helped the sport's reputation.

Darren Kaehne said the inclusion of skateboarding in the Tokyo Olympics has helped the sport’s reputation. Credit:Dylan Coker

Navarra Venues general manager Sal Navarra said there are plenty of other open spaces that are safer and more suitable for a skate park.

“We are seeking legal advice at this stage as the mayor misled local residents and the public about this project,” he said.

Inner West Labor Councilor Phillipa Scott said there was a shortage of recreational facilities for teenagers who weren’t on sports teams.

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She said skate parks encourage positive behaviors such as sharing and helping others rather than anti-social behavior.

“While Le Montage claims to be concerned about the environment and the safety of children, it’s clear that they really only care about one thing, not having a skatepark next to their luxury wedding venue,” she said.

The skaters competed in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, with Australian Keegan Palmer winning a gold medal.

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Former pro skateboarder Darren Kaehne says skateboarding is finally being recognized as a legitimate sport requiring skill, patience, dedication and passion.

“It’s a shame, but I think it took the Olympics to finally legitimize skateboarding, in the public eye,” he said.

“We spent a lot of time skating in the streets when I was younger and we were constantly harassed by security guards, business owners, police and even the general public.”

Kaehne said skateboarding facilities are no different from a playground or a basketball court.

“It’s a positive, safe and creative space, and let’s not forget that people exercise and develop their skills in a nurturing and inclusive space,” he said.

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