Skate park to stay in the dark

Mirror Park skate park in Ocean Reef.
Mirror Park skate park in Ocean Reef.

City of Joondalup officers had recommended $28,000 be listed in the 2015-16 capital works program for the lights and operating hours be extended to give more time for older people to use the park once younger ones had left.

At last week’s council meeting, planning and community development director Dale Page said there were other metropolitan skate parks that had lights.

‘These skate parks have been used to good effect and with less antisocial behaviour than what people may believe as a result,’ she said.

At the start of the meeting, resident Chris Melville presented a 114-signature petition opposed to installing lights and increasing the operating hours.

‘People who live around there and live in Ocean Reef feel that they’ve already compromised enough of their personal security, their ability to relax in their houses at night without noise and their ability to walk their dogs in the evening when it’s dark without feeling threatened by the more unsavoury characters that build up in that area the later the day goes on,’ he said.

‘Having lights will not make it safer.

‘If the reason for adding lights is to make the skate park useable for more hours then you’re going to get more hours worth of the same problems.’

The City had also received a 235-signature petition requesting the council approve lighting and increase operating hours.

Skateboarding Australia WA state manager Ben Bowring said Skateboarding Australia ‘fully recommends lighting at all skate parks for the safety and enjoyment of everyone’.

‘It is essential to provide an opportunity for skateboarding outside business hours and provide options for more advanced users who cannot skateboard during the day because it’s packed with young kids and collisions are imminent,’ he said.

‘Lighting enhances passive surveillance, attracts positive use and minimises antisocial behaviour.

‘Effectively-lit facilities can comfortably exist in residential zones with well-placed lights.

‘A large range of sporting fields and facilities are regularly lit thanks to these same reasons.’

Cr Philippa Taylor moved an amendment against installing the lights, citing a concern for increased after-hours complaints.

‘The number of complaints from Dec 2012 to May 2013 averaged 23.6 a month,’ she said.

‘The number of complaints from June 2013 to April 2014 averaged 4.64 a month. This is a drop of 80 per cent.’

In November 2013, the City installed bollards along the Ocean Reef Road perimeter to prevent illegal parking and people using their headlights to illuminate the skate park.

‘I know this will be disappointing for the skaters but the future success of the skate park will rely on the good relations between the skaters and the local residents.’

Cr Sam Thomas suggested a business area such as Winton Road in Joondalup would be a better place to have a lit skate park.

Cr Brian Corr said the City had received 159 complaints about the skate park, 51 in the past 11 months, relating to the use of the facility outside of open hours, noise, antisocial behaviour, illegal parking and litter removal.

He said there had been 22 graffiti removal jobs in the past 12 months and three reports of alcohol consumption.

‘These people (neighbours) deserve a nice, quiet and peaceful place as far as we can give them,’ he said.

Cr John Chester said the skate park had ‘reached equilibrium between usage and complaints’ and it would be ‘very ill-advised to add lights and upset the balance’.
Mayor Troy Pickard said it had ‘only been 12 months since the skate park was opened’.

‘I don’t think there’s a need at this stage to be rushing in and installing lights,’ he said.

Cr Liam Gobbert said lighting was a ‘deterrent to crime’ and helped with ‘active and passive surveillance of local areas and parks’.

He was the only councillor to vote against Cr Taylor’s amendment.

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