Skatepark petition gathers support

KAREN GOODGER
Last updated 13:00 05/09/2011

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A Nelson city councillor supporting the Stoke skatepark's controversial intersection location says it is safer than alternative sites.

Hundreds of people have signed a petition opposing the site on the corner of Songer St and Main Rd Stoke. The council is scheduled to revisit the decision at a meeting on October 13.

Community services co-portfolio holder Pete Rainey said people had contacted him expressing concern about the site.

"That, in my opinion, only represents part of the community."

An online poll run by the Nelson Mail this morning had 39.5 per cent support for the site and 27.5 per cent opposed, from a total of 258 votes.

Mr Rainey was unfazed by general safety concerns arising from the site's close proximity to the road and a busy intersection.

Expert opinions had been gathered before the location was decided upon some months ago, he said.

"That is the only site that had a pedestrian crossing on it. As far as I am concerned, it is the most controlled traffic site."

Mr Rainey said he had not yet spoken with those driving the petition to find out what their concerns were. "We need to have good rational reason put forward as to why that position is not good, as opposed to other sites."

Councillor Paul Matheson instigated a notice of motion last week, enabling the council to revisit its previous decision on the location.

He said nothing had changed since then, other than the Stoke community making its feelings known.

"I don't think the council staff understood the feeling in Stoke about safety concerns they had for that site."

About 60 per cent of Stoke businesses and residents opposed it in the consultation that was carried out, he said.

Mr Matheson was confident that the feelings of councillors who originally voted for the proposal would change when they became fully aware of the community's concerns.

Turf Hotel co-manager Gary Spanjer said the petition was being driven by the Stoke business community and had about 800 signatures to date.

"We are just asking the council to relook at the site, mainly. No one is against a skatepark at all. It is just where it is going to be. If cars are coming through the intersection or Main Rd and get distracted by skateboarders ... it is just going to be a danger."

The petition would continue until about a week prior to the council meeting, which representatives of the Stoke community would attend, he said.

Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio said the council would follow due process.

"I am keen to listen to the public's concerns. I understand the Stoke community is wanting to support its youth, and together we will find a solution to achieve the community's goal."

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- The Nelson Mail

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