by Carrington Clarke
Sydney City Council is supporting a plan to convert an unused block of land in William Street into a skate park.
The site, between Palmer and Bourke Streets on top of the Eastern Distributor (ED) Entry Portal, is owned by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and has stood vacant since the completion of the Eastern Distributor in 2005. It is currently surrounded by a large fence and the only current use seems to be as a canvas for graffiti.
A site for a skate park has been an ongoing issue for the Council for many years. There have been aborted attempts to create skate parks at different locations throughout the municipality, including Prince Alfred Park in Surry Hills and Millers Point.
The previous attempts were thwarted by residents who objected to the potential for noise and anti-social behaviour.The result is that skaters are using the city’s parks.
Skater Kiernan Ironfield, of Redfern, thinks the conversion of the William Street site makes perfect sense.
“At the moment the only options for skating is to do it around the city, like here in Hyde Park. There’s a skate park at Waterloo but it’s always crowded and really out of the way. The proposed location is easy to get to and at the moment it’s not being used for anything.”
Local resident Alice Pamment, 25, who is not a skater, is also positive about the idea.
“I think it would be great for the area. Currently the site is ugly and I don’t know how anyone could complain about noise when it’s sitting next to William Street,” she says.
The issue has been raised repeatedly over the last few years by the Council but has always been rebuffed by the Roads and Maritime Service, previously the Roads and Traffic Authority.
The matter was raised again recently by the Lord Mayor Clover Moore when she asked Monica Barone, Chief Executive of the Council, to explore the option further with the Roads and Maritime Service.
“The Chief Executive wrote to the Roads and Maritime Service in March and we are yet to receive a response to this correspondence. Previously we have been disappointed with the response from the Roads and Maritime Service which insists the lot be sold at full market rate,” says Sophie Phillips, of the Sydney City Council.
This response has not been enough to placate angry skaters throughout the city. They are determined to see a skate park built somewhere within the city.
Recently an online petition was started on (http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/skateboard-park-for-sydney-city.html) to push Sydney City Council into building a skateboard park within the city. It currently has around 500 signatures.
The petition names the preferred site as Prince Alfred Park as this was the site first identified by the Council six years ago. But as Kiernan Ironfield explains, skaters are happy to explore other options like the site on William Street.
“At this point we just really want a skate park built somewhere. We have been waiting for six years for the Council to build a park and we are just sick of waiting.”
With local government elections due to take place in September, it will be interesting to see if the petition is able to gain the attention of councillors.