A need for new and improved community and cultural facilities, including a request for a skate park upgrade from a Year 9 student, was at the forefront of public submissions made today on Tauranga city's Long-Term Plan.
Today was day three of five of the Long-Term Plan submissions hearings. Deliberations were held at Club Mt Maunganui.
Isaac Loye, 14, from Otūmoetai College, told commissioners there was a "desperate need" for a bigger skate park in the Otūmoetai suburb and was seeking funding of about $150,000 to upgrade the Carlton Street Reserve skate park.
Loye went scootering at the skatepark five times a week and said he believed change was needed because it was overcrowded.
"The current skate park is alright but it's very small - meaning that only three or four people can use it at a time.
"My friends and I go to the Carlton Reserve skatepark as much as possible... but we also travel all over the Tauranga area to Arataki, Te Puke, Ōmokoroa, Katikati and even to the Kaimai School because those skate parks are bigger," Loye said.
Loye said he saw the skate park as an opportunity for a social space for everyone to enjoy.
"In the future, we're hoping to see this space enlarged and made more of a community base where people of all ages can meet up even if they're not on a skateboard, a scooter or roller skates," Loye said.
"If it is possible, we would even look to see a big mural of some sort by a local artist such as Sam Allen."
Commissioner Chair Anne Tolley said: "We've had quite a few requests for more up-to-date skate parks."
Commissioner Bill Wasley asked how many people would be waiting for a turn on the skate park.
Loye said "at least seven" but on Thursday afternoons "there's at least 40 kids there and you can't ride whatsoever" because of Sam's Skate School.
Commissioner Shadrach Rolleston said he was familiar with the park.
"I'm aware there are constraints - there's always kids down there."
After the meeting, Loye told the Bay of Plenty Times that "metal is falling off the ramps", and he wanted the skate park to have "smoothened out concrete, more rails, more space [and] extended ramps".
Artist Sam Allen from the Incubator was seeking funding for a new youth-based art centre to help keep creative individuals in Tauranga, as he found many artists moved away to other regions.
"This would provide a vital stepping stone that has been sorely lacking for young inspiring artists to transition from a student to a career in the arts sector."
Allen said he debated on giving up on his dream of becoming an artist when he was 18 until he was received guidance from a Bolivian artist.
"Now three years on, I've become a fulltime artist and there is no looking back. Without his mentorship and the facilities and opportunities provided by the Incubator, I wouldn't be where I am today."
Allen was accompanied by jewellery designer Alexandra Mostyn from the Incubator who said extra funding was needed "to bring community and art together".
"People want to learn new skills, share passions and connect.
"Art plays a crucial role in mental health, and is often used to help restore confidence, empower or help people broken souls connect and find meaning in their life again."
Commissioner Chair Anne Tolley said Allen's and Mostyn's submissions were "very heartfelt".
Wairakei Community Centre Trust chairman Brian Cavit said there was an urgent need for a community centre in Pāpāmoa East, and expressed his frustration that the council had been on board with this for "quite some years" but there was still nothing there.
"There is a monstrous amount of housing being developed down there… and there are no facilities.
"We need it as a community place – a place where people come to receive food parcels, receive help [and] company."
Tolley said it was her understanding there was funding in the Long-term Plan for a community facility.
"There is over $100 million for the Pāpāmoa East Interchange which gives access into the Wairakei town centre.
"The expectations would be in that town centre... we would see those facilities."
But Cavit believed a temporary or short-term space was "vital" and that centre was 10 years away.
"There's a huge need and we needed a community centre yesterday or 10 years ago. Waiting another 10 or 20 years - socially, people are going to fall over."