Napier's Marineland to transform into skate park

21:55, Sep 19 2013
Marineland
NEW USE: Marineland’s dolphin pool will become a skate bowl, with a neighbouring car park and SkateZone land transformed into a reef garden and amphitheatre.

Memories of dolphins flipping out of the water will soon be replaced by young people's latest skateboarding tricks.

Napier City Council has approved the redevelopment of the former tourist attraction Marineland into a skate park. A neighbouring car park and SkateZone land will also be transformed into a reef garden and amphitheatre.

It is the latest announcement as part of the council's plans to improve Napier's foreshore. So far a junior bike track has been built and gardens have been landscaped to include a picnic barbecue area.

The new design by Paris Magdalinos Architects uses the existing Marineland grandstand and dolphin pool cavity for a skate bowl. The council hopes the project could be completed by August 2015.

Skatezone would move down the road, with the new site incorporating a junior scootering area, climbing wall and a multipurpose track to accommodate roller derby, futsal (five-a-side soccer) and basketball. A cafe could also be accommodated.

Councillor and chairman of the developing group Keith Price envisaged the Napier Skating Trust would lease and manage the park, while youth organisation Atomic Events could be co-located with SkateZone within the grandstand.

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"It's going to be huge," Atomic director Mark Wilson said, adding that it was vital to give young people somewhere to go rather than hanging around the streets during school holidays.

The existing SkateZone site will be transformed into a reef garden with a shingle beach, and water features. A four-tiered amphitheatre would run between the sunken gardens and the reef garden, which could host small productions and movie nights.

"It's great that we can re-link the parade with the sea, and vice versa, as these two features are part of what makes Napier so special."

Car parking would be reduced along Marine Pde. The council would help the Sunday market find a new home.

The council set aside $1.2 million in the 2013-14 financial year for Marine Pde developments. About $3.5m in capital funding for the balance of the project would be put aside in the next two annual plans. The council hoped the project would attract external funding.

Before development could begin, Marineland's remaining seals and sea lions must be re-homed. The council has negotiated to relocate them to Australian zoos.

Friends of Marineland chairman Cliff Church, who advocated re-opening the attraction, was concerned about the welfare of the remaining animals, saying the council had been talking about doing so for some time and had not yet managed to do so.

He believed the council was no further along in its development of Marine Pde than it was two years ago. "All I see is a few bumps, paths and a few sails. It's all smoke and mirrors."

The Dominion Post