Today's letter: Skateboarders
In 2009, the Invercargill City Council commissioned Mark Blumsky, former Wellington mayor and super shoe salesman, to visit the city, then submit a report hopefully finding the so far elusive formula to make Invercargill a vibrant city, a city with an identifiable point of difference.
The voluminous report arrived, it was studied in depth and the council seized with enthusiasm the idea of "child-friendly city".
Having adopted the concept, the council has fallen at the first hurdle.
The young people interested in skateboarding have been trying for years to get a decent skate park.
They haven't sat on their hands. These kids have worked with council officers, brought forward good ideas for the planners and have fundraised for the upgrade of the existing Elles Rd Park. The funding required was $750,000.
It was announced on Monday that $550,000 has been raised and now these young people have been asked to prioritise what they want within that budget.
Funding has come from the Lotteries Commission ($250,000), the Invercargill Licensing Trust and ILT Foundation ($150,000), and a loan of $100,000 has come from the city council.
Compare this generosity with the millions of dollars poured into the stadium not only for its replacement, but for all the bells and whistles so it will have the "wow" factor.
Here we have a group of kids, who wish to display their undoubted skills, for some of whom it is their only sporting outlet, and the council lends a miserly $100,000.
Councillor Lewis said loan funding meant ratepayers would not face an immediate lump-sum cost, but would pay back the loan over time. Thus future ratepayers who used the skate park would contribute to the cost. If this is so, why not $300,000? Or perhaps an increased dividend from Holdco would do the trick.
The Southland Times