Something smells fishy about the way “Sk8 Zone” / The Napier Skating Club has been treated over recent months – and it’s not just the aquatic entrails of Marineland’s gutted carcass.
A couple of weeks ago, just as the school holidays were about to get underway, Napier City Council announced the “pop-up” site they had found and leased to temporarily house the club was now not “looking viable” due to structural concerns about the site.
It was the latest sprinkle of salt in a wound that had most recently flared when the council rather unceremoniously evicted the club and demolished their 61 year old premises – despite saying in August last year that SK8 Zone would remain open until the new park opened.
In Hawke’s Bay Today on July 19 NCC’s community strategies manager Natasha Carswell said “the council had spent considerable time searching for an appropriate venue and was pleased to have negotiated the (Salvation Army site) deal”.
Add to that another month’s worth of reconstruction and expense by Skating Club members and you have at least 8 weeks for Napier City Council to check and sort building reports, earthquake ratings, codes of compliance and change of usage for the temporary site they found for the Skating Club.
Yet the site was only discovered to be “unsafe” the weekend it was due to open?.
That doesn’t sound right.
Incidentally, what civic authority administers and controls such oversight of buildings in Napier? Oh, yes – Napier City Council!
In fact the Community Services and Compliance / Planning departments are a few minutes’ walk apart or mere speed dial away!
Council Community Services / Strategy departments expressed platitudes that this development was “really disheartening for both the team at council and the skate club.”
But the NCC Marineland skate park is not a redevelopment of “Sk8 Zone”, rather a replacement.
Whilst NCC CEO Wayne Jack had previously claimed that “We definitely need their input to make it a world-class facility… The club is instrumental to [the facility’s] success”, the council have previously stated they wanted to run the new facility because they felt Napier Skating Club does not have the “operational expertise” despite 61 years of operation.
You could easily be forgiven for thinking there appears to be a strategy going on here, but it’s not in the community’s best interests.
At best this is an error that would likely see any other organisation liable for what this is costing the skating club.
At worst it could look like an attempt by the council to break a long running, local, mainly voluntary community organisation that it sees as competition to its plans.
Napier deserves better!