THEY’RE the boys who fly through Martin Place on any given weekend, gliding along the smooth tiles and soaring over steps and along rails.But skateboarders may get a new home if a council plan for the central business district’s long-awaited first skate park goes ahead.Tonight a City of Sydney committee will consider a proposal for a purpose-built facility at the Western Distributor underpass near Wynyard, a plan that has lifted the hopes of skaters such as Alon Settinger, 20.”You’re never going to stop street skating,” the Surry Hills skater said. ”It feels rough, it feels good … But if [the park] is good, people will go there, they’ll meet up there instead of here.”There are an estimated 56,000 skateboarders living within 20 kilometres of the CBD, yet pleas for an inner-city park have often fallen on unsympathetic ears.In 1995 Frank Sartor exemplified the mainstream attitude to skating in a letter to the Herald: ”The pedestrians of Sydney can rest assured … there will be no skateboard ramp in Martin Place, or indeed any other public place in the CBD.”The current council has been more amenable but has struggled to find a suitable site. Clover Moore used her casting vote to veto a proposed facility at Prince Alfred Park two years ago after complaints from residents.But the new site bypasses many issues that have stalled previous plans, particularly concerns over the loss of green space.”This is not an issue at the proposed site at the Western Distributor underpass, which is currently an underutilised urban space,” said Michael Leyland, the director of city projects at the council.If approved, the park would open in late 2011. But it’s not a simple case of if you build it, they will come. Mr Settinger says how the park is built is crucial, because poorly thought-out design at other parks has kept serious skaters away. He’d like to see it filled with the urban features that have made ”Martin” the city’s unofficial skate park for years – smooth ground and plenty of edges, steps and rails.Other skaters would also like to see the council pursue a second, bigger facility that could accommodate major competitions.”Skateboarding attracts a certain kind of disenfranchised young boy,” said the veteran Sydney skater John Fox. ”But you can actually turn that around if they think councils or governments want to work with them.”
Nanjing Night Net