You Can’t Roller-Skate in a Buffalo Herd

By Mike Welsh

If, as the 70s pop song went “You Can’t Roller-Skate in a Buffalo Herd” is true, how difficult must it be to skate board in a cage with razor-wire overhead?

An exasperating brawl, redolent of the (sneaky) erection of the Berlin Wall and requiring the (delicate) diplomacy of a Gaza Strip summit, has been brewing over a skate park on the Mid-North Coast of NSW.

day park pic

Since late last year the Nambucca Heads skate park has been completely surrounded by a high security fence which is topped by razor wire. RAZOR WIRE! A Detention Centre (locals have nicknamed it Manus lsland) or the exercise yard at one of Her Majesty’s Correctional facilities automatically leaps to mind. Or a skate park earmarked for demolition. On the contrary, not only is this facility not the target of the wreckers ball it is still a full functioning skate park which has been years in the planning. The skaters just have to be careful when completing certain moves, lest they suffer a sharp cut from the razor wire canopy.

This standoff has all the ingredients of a full blown brawl. But unlike other conflicts this one doesn’t have two equal sides.  One side is made up of the majority of locals, most of whom have been waiting many years for this facility. The other “side” is two residents who live near the park.  Into this Nambucca NIMBY mix, sparked by a successful challenge (by  the two  residents) on the grounds of a flawed DA process, add a complaint, lodged last week with the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board by the skaters.

According to the online snow and skate boarding site Boardword, the Nambucca issue is not unique. ‘Small groups within communities all over Australia have had seemingly relentless power when it comes to closing down skate parks, forbidding them from being constructed or altering their appearance in some way’.

night nam pic

Riely Walker’s article points out that the lights at Sydney’s Waterloo skate park ‘were shut off early every night due to the complaints of a handful of residents. In 2011, the proposed skate park at Wynyard was completely abolished due to the complaints of less than a dozen nearby residents, despite having the support of over 20,000 signatures’. And Reilly tells of the San Remo Skate Park on the NSW Central Coast having its bowl filled in several years ago, again due to the complaints of a small number of residents.

Last Thursday’s Nambucca Shire Council meeting voted to seek a meeting between skaters and residents to try and resolve the ongoing issue.

Nambucca Mayor Rhonda Hoban, who spoke to me on radio on Friday, says the razor wire is not a good look.

Photos Chris Hewgill

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Mockery Of Shockjockery

CANBERRA BASED WRITER AND PHOTOGRAPHER

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