Claim of drugs, ‘dudes’ outdated

Wanaka Skateboard park advocate and Queenstown Lakes District Council Deputy Mayor Calum Macleod...
Wanaka Skateboard park advocate and Queenstown Lakes District Council Deputy Mayor Calum Macleod says he cannot wait for stage 4 as Cruz Morland (15), of Wanaka skateboards on the recently opened stage 3 extension. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
A claim issues with drugs and too many "dudes" will put off girls from using Wanaka’s new skateboard park has been dismissed as untrue and an outdated assumption.

At the Wanaka Community Board meeting last week, Aspiring Gym Sports Gymnastics Club spokeswoman Colleen Nisbet described the skateboard park as an "awesome facility" but she said it was used only by "sons and dads doing their thing and having a blast".

As a mother of a 12 year-old-girl "they just don’t go there, as it is confronting for them", she said.

"There are so many dudes down there and they are not just kids, they are men."

She had also heard from another mother there were "too many drugs".

Ms Nisbet was speaking in the public forum of the meeting to garner support for the Queenstown Lakes District council buying or leasing the former Mitre 10 building in Anderson Heights for a youth and indoor sports centre.

On the preceding day, the fences had come down from around the third stage of the council-funded Wanaka skateboard park, which was estimated to have cost $500,000.

Deputy Mayor Calum Macleod said Ms Nisbet was very "well intentioned" but her claim of drugs at the Wanaka skateboard park was not valid.

"Drugs are a problem everywhere.

"To single out one sport or one group and say drugs were an issue because it was an issue in the 1970s — we are past that," he said.

Skateboarding NZ president and Wanaka Skate Club member Chris Curran said he was not aware of any drug issues at Pembroke Park.

Mr Curran teaches skateboarding at the Wanaka skateboard park and said the claim the facility was used by boys only was not true.

"Historically, boys used to be the ones skateboarding but since it has become an Olympic sport we are seeing more women than ever," he said.

At a recent weekend drop-in session, more than a third of 150 participants were girls or women, and in his Tuesday beginner class a quarter of the pupils are girls.

Cr Macleod said the council supported funding the purchase or lease of the Mitre 10 building but it could not come at the expense of another project in the Upper Clutha.

He said the council was in a "live conversation" with owner of the Mitre10 building, Willowridge Developments’ Allan Dippie, about the possibility of giving the building to the wider Wanaka community.

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