Safety concerns prompt Snells skatepark upgrade

Pro skater Skinner says skateparks need to be fit for purpose to encourage young talent.

A $250,000 programme to renew and upgrade old ramps and equipment at the Snells Beach skatepark has been brought forward as a result of a young skater fracturing his collarbone in a fall recently.

The boy’s skateboard is thought to have caught on a raised edge on one of the ramps’ wooden composite panels, which had lifted due to broken screws and warping.

Local pro skater and skateboard tutor Umberto Skinner, known to all as Skinner, says the condition of the ramps has been deteriorating for a long time, and he has been pushing for the park in Goodall Reserve to be brought up to modern standards.

“The accident was the final straw,” he says. “Contractors come to do maintenance, but they don’t take into account what’s needed. They call it safety maintenance, but it’s a death trap.”

He says that even though Council made repairs to the ramp, many safety issues remain, with broken and missing screws, warped panels and raised edges on parts of all the ramps.

Rodney Local Board chair Beth Houlbrooke says she asked Council to bring forward plans to renew the ramps with solid concrete structures as soon as she heard about the accident in April.

“The structure was subsequently made safe, but it was recognised it needed an upgrade sooner rather than later,” she says.

Council’s head of project delivery for community facilities, John Schermbrucker, says the skatepark was partly upgraded last year, with shade sails and new skate features on its northern edge, but all the original elements made of steel framing and composite wooden ramp armour would be renewed and replaced with concrete. New seating is also due to be installed.

Skinner says this is welcome news, but adds that the skatepark’s old, pitted concrete floor is also a safety issue and he is keen to work with Council to ensure that work is done to the right standard, something with Mr Schermberger says will definitely happen.

“As part of this work, we will be meeting with the locals that use the skatepark and asking them if they would like any changes or additions made while we are in the process of renewing the old skate elements,” he says.


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