6 May 2015

Sumner board says yes to skate park

10:37 am on 6 May 2015

A community board in Christchurch has voted to allow international denim company Levi's to build a skate park in the community of Sumner.

The community board voted to allow Levi's to build the skate park.

The community board voted to allow Levi's to build the skate park. Photo: RNZ / Georgina Stylianou

The park, on the corner of Sumner's Esplanade and main road, has divided the seaside township and the community board tasked with making the decision is already preparing for legal challenges.

A keen skateboarder at the community board meeting.

A keen skateboarder at the community board meeting. Photo: RNZ / Georgina Stylianou

The vote was taken last night at a five-hour long board meeting attended by more than 400 people.

Children holding signs and teenagers on skateboards were among those who piled into the Sumner School hall for the meeting.

The board's decision to approve the proposal was met with cheering and clapping, while a group of residents who opposed the park's location shook their heads in disbelief.

Levi's will now apply for resource consent to build the $180,000 park in Sumner, an area which was badly affected in the earthquakes.

The firm's marketing manager, Nicky Rowsell, said she was happy with the outcome after such divided opinions from the community.

"To be honest, this is the first time we've received this amount of debate but keeping in mind the other parks...were built in third-world countries."

She said Levi's would continue to work with the city council to get the plan underway and would hopefully start building the park soon.

Gift should be welcomed - skater

Skater and instructor, Scott Buckner, said a skate park had been on the cards for years and there would never be a location everyone could agree on.

"Fifteen years since the need for a facility was identified in Sumner and Redcliffs, and without this opportunity, the community would have to wait until the council was in a position to fund one themselves."

He said "being gifted" a skate park that would encourage children in the area to be active and social was something that should be embraced.

Mr Buckner said a temporary skate park in Sumner had not been vandalised, nor attracted noise complaints.

Lawyer outlines flaws

Eight-four percent of submissions received by the council were in favour of the park, but a small and well-resourced group strongly opposed its location.

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Photo: RNZ / Georgina Stylianou

The board has already received a letter from the group's lawyer outlining potential legal flaws in the consulation and decision making process.

Some people are concerned about the use of reserve land, the park's proximity to homes and the noise and antisocial behaviour it might generate.

People who support the park say there are outdated stereotypes associated with skating and feel positive that anti-social behaviour such as tagging and drinking would not occur.

City councillor Paul Lonsdale said he had been planning to vote against the park but was moved by the community's passion.

"I know there is massive risk in approving this today, through legal challenges, but actually I'm willing to take that risk.

"We need to let our kids have a bit of fun and make sure they feel valued."

Councillor Yani Johanson voted against the park, citing concerns about legal challenges and the location, as did one other board member, but the remaining five members all voted in favour.