Council chips in for skating stop-gap

By Doug Laing

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COMING DOWN: Demolition has started on the Sk8 Zone on Napier's Marine Parade.PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN
COMING DOWN: Demolition has started on the Sk8 Zone on Napier's Marine Parade.PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN

The Napier City Council is chipping in $15,000 to give the local skating club a temporary home until a new skate park opens this year.

Just a day after the closure of Sk8 Zone, the Marine Parade skating rink which has been the Napier Skating Club's home for almost 62 years, the council announced yesterday that it had leased a former winery warehouse in Faraday St, uphill from Carlyle St, as a "pop-up" rink for club members.

Cranes start clearing the Marine Parade site this week, a small amount of the ramp network being moved to the temporary indoor venue where the council hopes to have the club based within a fortnight.

The council is contributing $10,000 for an 18-week lease from the building's owners, the Salvation Army, and $5000 to the club to operate the facility, and says it's "an effort to bridge the gap" between the Sk8 Zone closure and the opening of the new Napier skate park, which will be on the Marineland site, also on Marine Parade.

Council community planning manager Natasha Carswell said the council had spent considerable time searching for an appropriate venue and was pleased to have negotiated the deal with the Salvation Army.

"The skating club has expressed a desire to work with us while they transition to the new build at the former Marineland site," Carswell said.

"As the completion date is still a few months away, we felt there was a need to accommodate club skaters elsewhere.

"This is a good solution - it's an all-weather indoor space, it was available for the months we required it, and it helps to alleviate some of the anxiety club skaters have been experiencing around the move."

She said club members had been out to visit the site before the council signed the lease and were happy with the ceiling height and the building itself.

Skaters will need to be Napier Skating Club members to access the space.

Matt Cooper, a 41-year-old who spent with more than half his life as a member before taking over the presidency two months ago amid the debate over the club's future home and the type of facility now to be built on Marine Parade, says the Faraday St premises will be somewhere for the "kids" in the club to go after school, and for use by other members.

"It's not going to be anything fantastic," he said. "At the moment it's the best option. It's indoors, and anything indoors has got to be bloody good."

The rink on the parade was "chocker" for the last day of operation on Sunday, and the club is now preparing a business plan in the hope of managing the new facility nearby.

"They don't think we can do it," he said. "Well, we've been running the rink up there since 1954."

Council director community services Antoinette Campbell said: "It's a multi-million dollar development, and needs to be managed as such. The Napier Skating Club has sought further information on this from us in order to submit a business plan, and we've provided that information to them. However we're still a long way off any decision on management."

She said construction on the new facility was "on track," with the skating club helping to finalise the design. Some club-owned ramps will be moved on to the Marineland site, which council will then refurbish at no cost to the club.

The new development will also support a range of other wheeled sport, such as skateboarding, artistic skating, speed skating, derby and hockey.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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