Youth park criticised by parkour crew

Parkour crew stick to streets

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 11:59 29/11/2012

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Palmerston North's council-funded parkour equipment is dangerous, unsuitable for the sport and should be ripped down and rebuilt, parkour practitioners say.

The Skoglund Youth Park was opened in July, but the city's parkour and free-running group would much rather practise their moves outside Palmerston North's Convention Centre.

Parkour enthusiast Wayne Procter said the "slippery" acrylic paint on the equipment meant it was impossible to do tricks with confidence.

Fellow enthusiast Tim Hamilton - who videos the parkour group's "jams" - said landing on the rubber area was putting more stress on their joints than landing on concrete.

According to Mr Hamilton the "playground" was good only for complete beginners and they would rather it was not known as a parkour park.

"We don't like it and it's just such a shame because the council did so much work consulting us and putting it together."

Another jammer, Rhys Tomlinson, said the council would be better to take down the $157,000 park and build it again.

Manawatu's representative for the NZ Parkour Association Joseph Lowcay said the problem with the park was that it had to comply with playground safety standards.

"With the safety standards it can't be a parkour park - it's just a playground."

Mr Lowcay also had issues with some of the materials used.

"For some reason the council decided to use anti-graffiti paint on some of it, which is extremely slippery.

"It certainly brings in an element of danger."

They could not push their limits in that sort of environment, he said.

A new park without playground safety standards would be nice, but they always had the cityscape to practise on, he said.

"If improvements are going to be done, they have to be done well and with better consultation to make something really amazing out of it."

Palmerston North City Council leisure officer Nicki Hanna said it was a youth park aimed at the 13+ age-group and was never designed to be a proper parkour park.

Australian parkour star Ali Kadhim was involved in the marketing and opening of the park, but the council did not expect the sport's elite to get much benefit out of it, she said.

"We weren't targeting that equipment at the real gun parkour users.

"They had their ideas of what they needed and it was clear very early on in the process that they were very different to what we needed.

"We wanted to put in a youth area that was unique and we are quite happy with what we have got."

Ms Hanna said there was room to expand the park in future if council budgets allowed for it.

There had been no concerns or complaints made about the slipperiness or safety in the park, she said.

"When Alex [Ali Kadhim] came over, he didn't seem to have any issues," she said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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