Riders fear museum will kill skate bowl
BMX riders fear their beloved skate bowl could be sacrificed if a new museum is built at Hayman Park.
Plans for a museum in the central Manukau park were announced in early September and will be assessed by the Cabinet in the coming months.
The site for the building, which will be supported by Te Papa and funded by the government, has not been decided.
But the riders are putting out a clear call: don't build it on top of us.
Nearly 600 people have signed an online petition calling for the skatepark to be preserved.
They say a new museum would be great but it should be built in another area of the park.
BMX enthusiast Hayley Nessia launched a petition at the start of the year after the release of the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board's master plan for Hayman Park.
The $26 million proposal recommends the existing skate bowl be demolished and another built closer to the new Manukau Institute of Technology building.
Redevelopment is still in its early stages so any possible development of the bowl is a long way off, Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board chairman John McCracken says.
But news of the proposed museum has renewed Miss Nessia's fears for the future of the skate park. It's a much-loved facility and a replacement is not likely to stack up, she says.
"The main appeal is the lights - it's the only park in Auckland, and one of the only parks in New Zealand, that has lights which means people with fulltime jobs can use it after work. People come from all over the city and all over the country to ride it."
Miss Nessia has seen many youngsters turn their lives around after getting into skating or BMX riding.
"They've come down here and they're lifelong friends now and they've stayed out of trouble. That's all down to the park and the people who use it."
Keen rider Peter Gallagher is part of a group of about 30 who use the skate park three evenings a week.
He's been riding at the facility since it was built more than a decade ago and says it has meaning to countless people.
"We're so passionate about it because it's our park.
"We want to raise awareness that the park is being used for what it's meant for - it's not just a place for people to drink," Mr Gallagher says.
Mr McCracken says he can't make any promises about the skate bowl's future yet.
There are several different opinions about where the museum should be built and they need to be worked through in conjunction with Te Papa, the government and other stakeholders, he says.
"We can't say categorically to the guys at the skate bowl, ‘no, you won't be affected' because we simply just don't know."
But the board will look at building another skatepark if the current one has to be bowled to make way for the museum, he says.
"We certainly don't want to make one group homeless to benefit another group."
Hayley Nessia and Peter Gallagher are in a group hosting a BMX competition at Hayman Park tomorrow to drum up awareness of their cause. The competition will run from noon until 6pm with a rain date of October 12.
There's a $10 entry fee but anyone is welcome to watch free. Go to facebook.com/SaveManukauSkatepark for more information. --------------------
- © Fairfax NZ News
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