A skate park will not be part of a master plan for Ryrie Park and the town centre, but considered for the Recreation Ground in the future, in an action that has “betrayed and disillusioned” its supporters.
The motion at November 22’s council meeting was tabled by councillor Trudy Taylor, who said Ryrie Park could attract vandalism and anti-social behaviour, as at the Queanbeyan skate park.
Most councillors voted in favour. Cr Peter Marshall abstained; Cr Kenrick Winchester voted against. Cr Taylor said the motion, not listed on the meeting agenda, was based on concerns voiced by locals.
Skate elements in a dedicated play area were part of concept plans for Ryrie Park released in August. Earlier plans to put such a facility in the Recreation Grounds were rejected by skate park supporters.
Skate park supporters complained the lack of notice on the motion had taken them unawares. “I felt absolutely gutted; just betrayed and disillusioned,” said skate park proponent Karuna Bajracharya.
The president of youth-focused community group Braidwood Outsiders said he too was concerned about anti-social skate park behaviour, but the Rec Grounds’ location would make that more likely.
He said Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council was “listening to a small group of worried residents” but not “the greater population,” including industry professionals, heritage advisors, “their own staff”.
“They are making an arbitrary decision based on … the influence of a small number of [objectors].”
But other residents supported the council’s decision. “We’re not against the skate park at all,” said Danny King. “I feel, as others do, that that site, if constructed, would be inadequate. The elements ... are pretty basic, and users would probably be disappointed, over time, of how inadequate it will be.”
In a Facebook post, Mayor Tim Overall said many residents had, in the past two years, “raised concerns with me ... [regarding] a potential Ryrie skate park”, as recently as Saturday’s quilt festival.
“On Saturday I spent over five hours at the festival,” Cr Overall said. “My understanding of broader community preference for an alternative location was validated.
“I also took the opportunity to meet with the Braidwood Outsiders’ pro-Ryrie Park representatives.”
Cr Marshall said abstaining from Wednesday’s vote had been a small protest over its lack of warning. A lack of formal consultation meant councillors couldn’t make an evidence based decision, he said.
“There’ve been a lot of people speaking publicly about a skate facility in Ryrie Park, but there hasn’t been a formal consultation process,” he said. “I hadn’t formed a view. I didn’t feel I had reasonable information. Given an item like that, you’d expect the community to be given a chance to be heard.”