Battle Lines Drawn Over Skatepark
Written by John Freer on January 8, 2023
By John Freer
It would have to be one of the longest drawn-out sagas on the Coromandel Peninsula – and it does not appear to be reaching a solution anytime soon.
We are writing about, and you are reading about, the proposed Tairua Skatepark project. For more than 30 years residents, Thames Coromandel District Council and the Tairua-Pauanui Community Council, rather than try to build a skatepark, would have been better off establishing a wrestling club in the town.
They would have been very proficient at that after the number fights over the skatepark.
Yesterday it was the Preserve Cory Park Domain Incorporated’s annual general meeting – an entity which has more than 100 members and primarily represents residents living nearby or adjoining Cory Park Domain – the location council is proposing to build a new skatepark.
Mayor Len Salt attended yesterday’s meeting with his deputy Terry Walker. During discussions the mayor asked for a show of hands of those of the 42 people attending, who were opposed to the skatepark at Cory Domain.
There was no need to count the raised hands as virtually everyone present reached for the sky.
As is the case at such meetings, discussion can be heated and some of it can stray from the mark.
One observation worth listening too was a resident, who told those present he had a commercial and financial background, was the fact council recently agreed to spend a further $500,000 on the project when there were no plans or financial analysis to support that decision.
He used as a reference that if he had undertaken such in his professional life, he more than likely would have been told to leave his car keys on his desk.
The meeting continued to hear allegations of lack of consultation by council and its contractors, a report and subsequent process which led to the Cory Park location was described as a sham, issues with health and safety when attempting to combine a number of sports in a confined area, conflicts of interest and a lack of accountability.
One further resident asked on several occasions what was the reason for driving the Cory Park Domain location when there were other council owned areas within the community.
Both the mayor and deputy mayor were thanked for attending the meeting and listening. Len said council had been through a robust process, he said he had seen designs and costings and “I am happy with that”.
He talked about the fact as mayor he was advocating consensus decisions at the council table, he said these decisions sometimes did not have the support of all people.
Meeting chairman, Neil Plummer, gets his say which prompted our opening to this story. Opening the meeting, Neil made it very clear that his organisation opposed the location of the proposed skatepark at Cory Park Domain.
“We continue to oppose the location, Cory Park surrounding residents have not been consulted, we have been kept in the dark, and there has been no consultation on the latest designs,” the comments he opened the meeting with.
“There are some 45 families directly impacted by this, where with Pepe (Reserve option) there are three or four.”
Neil touched on health and safety repercussions, noise and the location of toilets. He went to lengths to explain his organisation supported a skatepark for the town, just not at Cory Park.
He made it plainly obvious to the mayor and deputy mayor, his organisation would continue with legal challenges for as long as council continued with the Cory Park option.
The residents have successfully challenged four aspects of the process to date, one resulting in a $10,000 settlement in 2021 from council.