By Caleb Sweeting
With two headlines in the local papers this week, “Save our spot - Murray Bridge crew pleads” and “Skaters’ anger as new city skate park in south-eastern parklands won’t open before closure of popular CBD facility,” it makes you wonder where the government’s priorities lie when it comes to the needs of the youth of South Australia. Of course it’s easy to assume that the government couldn’t care less about youth because we can’t vote, while this is true I believe youth isn’t a term that only represents 12 to 18 year olds. I know old dudes that rip on a skateboard and have a full time job and kids to feed, but in my eyes if you continue to have a passion for the park you’re going to be pissed off if it’s taken away from you. – And these old dudes with the right to vote will rally with the young dudes to have their voice heard.
The first article I read in the Murray Valley Standard at the beginning of the week probably pissed me off the most. It was about how the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure had plans to demolish the informal Eat Children Crew BMX spot behind the Round House at Murray Bridge. If you don’t know who Eat Children Crew is they’re a bunch of South Australian BMX riders with a massive passion for the sport and despite their name they are nicest blokes you’re bound to meet at any skate park in SA. (Look out for the ECC interview in issue 3). Many of the members from ECC are in their 20s and have been riding bikes for as long as they can remember, and they have put in the time, money and effort to create a BMX oasis for the river land community to enjoy. Not only that, the caretaker and nearby residents have no problem with the ramps, bars and a quarter-pipe installed by some crew members who happen to be tradesmen for a living. While Murray Bridge does have an official skate park, it makes you wonder what the problem is with a country town having a DIY spot for kids to stay out of trouble because they are occupied by not only riding at the spot, but keeping it maintained and thinking of ways to make it better. ECC member Steven Shires was right on the money when he told the Murray Valley Standard that, "You can make whatever programs, but when you get kids wanting to be involved, it's good - even the Aboriginal kids come down here." It makes you wonder whether the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure will listen or even consider the opinions of young people in the area, but one thing’s for sure these guys are resilient and they’ll band together to save their local hang-out.
From the country to the city there is a similar problem. We’ve known for a while now that the city’s only skate park on North Terrace will be knocked down to make way for the expansion of the new medical precinct. We know now it will be closing at the end of this month, with everyone making the most of the park before it no longer exists. I think everyone has accepted the fact the park is being sacrificed for a very valid reason, a city needs modern medical facilities. However, a city also needs a skate park. Greens member Tammy Franks, who has been campaigning for a new park recently said, “When a city doesn’t have a skate park we run the risk of the whole city becoming a skate park.” While Tammy is right I think skaters can all agree that the urban environment of the streets of Adelaide will still be skated regardless of a skate park being open to the public… But you can expect to see even more skaters congregating on the sidewalk if a new one isn’t built. What skaters are really pissed off about is the government failing to build a temporary skate park in time for when the City Park closes at the end of February. They’ve told us that in the future we can expect a place to skate in the east parklands, but for now we’ll just have to wait for City Park to close and wait even longer for a new one to replace it.
But if you really want to know my opinion, I think if you love skateboarding or BMX it shouldn’t matter where you ride – As long as you’re with your mates shredding and having a good time you’ll find or make a place to ride.