Campaign for new skate park ramps up

Aaron Martin, centre, with Brooklyn Biddle, left, and his son Zac Martin, right, want local skateboarders and scooter riders to have better access to sports facilities that suit their needs. Times photo Wayne Martin

A father and son are leading the charge to improve the facilities available to east Auckland’s skateboarders and scooter riders.

Aaron Martin, 29, and his seven-year-old son Zac Martin are campaigning for the construction of a new skate park in Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga.

They also want the park’s existing skating facility improved so it can be used safely in the meantime.

Martin delivered a presentation on the issue to the Howick Local Board at its final business meeting for 2020 on December 3.

He told the board east Auckland “needs, wants, and is overdue” a wheeled sports area close to Sunnyhills, Farm Cove, Bucklands Beach and Howick that is “fit for purpose and a place for everyone to use”.

He said he and others are willing to put in the work to see their goal come to fruition and they are not asking the board for a donation.

Martin said the existing Lloyd Elsmore Skatepark opened in 1998 and its condition is “pretty bad”.

Its concrete is rough and cracking and it has poor drainage that results in puddles forming in the centre of the area that users ride through.

“You can’t see it from the road,” he said.

“It’s got a lack of fundamental features and there’s not that much to do [there].

“There is no car parking, no rubbish bins, no water fountains, and it looks quite grim.”

Martin said the skate park’s condition makes it unsafe to use.

“When you fall over it literally peels you up like a cheese grater.

“It’s guaranteed there will be blood and obviously when you’re learning you’re falling every day multiple times.”

Martin said parents of young skateboarders and scooter riders who use the park have told him about their children falling there and being hurt.

He said he wants Auckland Council to provide the board with an asset condition safety report about the skate park.

He also asked the board to consider allocating some of its discretionary operating expenditure to address maintenance as a short-term solution prior to the start of the 2021-2022 financial year.

“We request the local board advocate to the council for a public-private partnership to address longer-term requirements for a new facility that meets the community’s needs.”

Following Martin’s presentation, board deputy chairman John Spiller asked him to clarify how he was proposing the work be funded.

“At this stage I’m not 100 per cent sure,” Martin said.

“I haven’t done this before so I’m researching how the process works and I’m learning a lot every day.

“Generally in the feasibility reports I’ve been reading of other councils and other skate parks, generally what happens is they provide accurate site selection reports and take into account everything.

“We understand money is an issue everywhere at the moment, post-Covid, and as a short-term solution we are open to all options.”

Martin has formed the East Skate Club as part of his campaign and to give local skateboarders and scooter riders a voice.

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