Skateboarders see red
A zero-tolerance approach to graffiti has left skaters in for a rough ride at one of Auckland's oldest skate parks.
A dangerously coarse surface and crack have been left in the wake of Auckland Council's maintenance of the Bob Hill Reserve skate bowl.
Auckland Council began the work after contracts were approved from the Auckland Graffiti Vandalism Prevention Plan on July 1.
The plan calls for the removal of all unapproved graffiti in public parks with Tag Out Trust receiving the contract for Bob Hill Reserve.
Nick Bennett has skated the bowl for 25 years and says the poor job has hurt the skate bowl users more than the taggers who are likely to come back.
"It's poor workmanship and they haven't even bothered to clean it up properly."
He says more cracks are guaranteed to appear and the council should have opted for a skater friendly option.
"Now the council says it wants to set up cameras to monitor the bowl to see how many people use it and make a decision from there.
"The whole process is ridiculous."
A council spokesperson says consultation was made with residents and onsite meetings were held with police representatives, the graffiti vandalism prevention team, the parks team and the Whau Local Board.
"One business said that the spray paint fumes drifted in their open window and created an unpleasant working environment and its staff were sick of it.
"The graffiti team also has several skater contacts and we are aware that not all skaters are happy with the surface as it is."
Mr Bennett says the park built in 1977 is treasured by the skating community who have helped maintain the bowl by fixing a large crack and restoring the park's edge over the years.
"It's legendary and is known internationally as one of the great original skate parks."
He says skaters are on board with getting the park graffiti-free but they want to ensure the bowls fully restored.
"We accept that the graffiti had to go but why only half finish the job?"
The 39-year-old says constant vigilance is solution to deterring taggers.
"People have stopped tagging at Victoria Park skate park because they know it will be removed straight away.
"At the Barry Curtis skate park they have caretakers who clean it. If taggers don't see other graffiti they're less likely to do it."
Auckland Council spends $4 million of ratepayers' money annually on graffiti prevention.
The council says repair and restoration is still a work in progress and skaters need to use common sense in the meantime.
"The next phase is to repair a crack in the middle section of the structure and then smooth the surface. We will do this as soon as possible.
"Skateboarders make their own decisions about the safety or otherwise of their skate bowls and indeed their manoeuvres and it is our intention to keep the skate bowl open to users until the restoration work starts."
- Western Leader
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