Marine Parade has a new attraction opening soon, "Bay Skate" will be a Napier City Council-run skate park opening on the site of Napier's long-dormant Marineland attraction.

But something has smelled fishy about the way "Sk8 Zone"/The Napier Skating Club has been treated in the lead-up to this new skate park and it's not just the aquatic entrails of Marineland's redeveloped carcass.

Napier City Council (NCC) rather unceremoniously evicted the club and demolished its 61-year-old premises in July, despite former Mayor Ron Spriggs granting it a peppercorn 99-year lease during his term (1950-56) and the council saying in Hawke's Bay Today on August 2015 that SK8 Zone would remain open until the new park was completed.

NCC found a temporary site for the skating club to operate from until construction of the new park was finished in the Salvation Army's former Faraday Street complex.


The council's Community Strategies Manager said in Hawke's Bay Today on July 19 "the council had spent considerable time searching for an appropriate venue and was pleased to have negotiated the [Salvation Army site] deal".

Add to that another month's worth of reconstruction and expense by Skating Club members (estimated to be around $10,000) and you have at least 8 weeks; two months for Napier City Council to do due diligence, check and sort building reports, earthquake ratings, codes of compliance and change of usage for the temporary site they found for the Skating Club.

Yet this site was only discovered to be structurally "unsafe" in early September, the week it was due to open?

That doesn't sound right.

Incidentally, what civic authority administers and controls such oversight of buildings in Napier? That's right: Napier City Council.

The Community Services and Compliance/Planning departments are, in fact, only a few minutes' walk apart or mere speed dial away.

A few weeks later in September, just as the school holidays were about to get underway, a key activity and income time for community organisations such as Napier Skating Club, Napier City Council announced this "unsafe" site was now not "looking viable" due to the complex's "possible structural issues".

Three months later it is still yet to be publicised if these "possible structural issues" which shut down the pop-up skate park before it could open were actual structural issues or not.

Council Community Services/ Strategy departments expressed platitudes that this development was "really disheartening for both the team at council and the skate club."

But "Bay Skate", the NCC's Marineland skate park was never going to be a redevelopment of "Sk8 Zone", rather a replacement.

Whilst NCC CEO Wayne Jack was quoted as saying: "We definitely need their input to make it a world-class facility ... The club is instrumental to [the facility's] success" (HBT May 30), the council had previously stated it wanted to run the new facility because it felt Napier Skating Club does not have the "operational expertise" despite its 61 years of operation.

You will, of course, remember how successful NCC's recent "operational expertise" in MTG construction and Art Deco Bus operation proved.

You could easily be forgiven for thinking there appeared to be a strategy going on here, but it wasn't in the community's best interests and the service Napier Skating Club has received from the council has been far from ideal.

It would likely also make any other organisation liable for what this has cost the skating club including loss of income, destruction of facilities and many thousands of dollars in ramps the club had built over the years.

At worst it could look like an attempt by the council to break a long-running, local, mainly voluntary community organisation that it saw as competition to its plans.

One thing is certain: Napier deserves better.

Andrew Frame is a Napier-based commentator on local issues. More of his views and opinions can be read at
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