Warning to keep off unfinished Oakham skatepark
Skaters have been urged to put safety first and stay off a new set of ramps in Oakham until they are completely finished.
Oakham Town Council has hired leisure firm Caloo to build the new skatepark in Cutts Close.
The £48,000 park, built on the site of the old wooden ramps, is not yet finished. But people have been ignoring the metal fencing around the new ramps and skating them.
The warning comes after a number of people expressed unhappiness with the new skatepark. Several comments have been posted on a Facebook page about it.
Deputy mayor Adam Lowe said people needed to wait until the park was finished before judging it. But he warned people not to use it before it was ready.
Coun Lowe said: “People have been using it before it is finished, without the consent of any town councillors or the construction people. I believe that the police have spoken to these people and taken their names.”
While I can appreciate that the town council went through a process to contact schools and built the skatepark with the best intentions, there was a clear lack of understanding with key stakeholder groups not being consulted.
Coun Lowe said one of Caloo’s managing directors had asked him to reiterate to the public that it was still an active building site.
The old wooden ramps were built in Cutts Close in 2007. The council decided last year to replace them after they came to the “end of their natural life”, according to a report by former town councillor Alan Walters and town clerk Richard White.
The report, given to councillors in November, said any new park should be targeted at beginners and intermediate users, as it would be “far more appropriate for the demographics of the park”.
Councillors were also told that English Heritage, which was consulted as Cutts Close is a scheduled monument, said the new park could not exceed the existing footprint.
The council got quotes from Caloo, Flo Skatepark Construction and Evolution Skateparks, and decided to go with Caloo’s design at a cost of £47,994. A survey of primary school children found 70 per cent in favour of Caloo’s idea.
Rutland County Council gave £30,000 towards the park in March, with the rest coming from the town council and the Memorial Institute.
Coun Walters (Ind), who is no longer on the town council but does represent the Oakham North East ward on the county council, said the new park “was never intended to be for serious riders, and probably never can be such in this location”.
Coun Walters said he hoped older users would take it upon themselves to raise funds for a larger, more advanced park in a new location, with a design of their choosing.
Several skaters have been in touch with the Rutland Times about the new ramps. One, Alex Jordan, 26, urged people not to use the park until it was finished, but said that was not the primary cause for concern.
“Many of the issues raised relate to size, positioning and the materials used in the building of the skatepark. While I can appreciate that the town council went through a process to contact schools and built the skatepark with the best intentions, there was a clear lack of understanding with key stakeholder groups not being consulted.”
Alex said it would be a “great idea” if skaters could fund their own larger park, but added: “Unfortunately many of the skatepark users were unaware that the council intended to replace the previous skatepark, which has meant that they have now lost an opportunity for funding.
“On a positive note, this may be the catalyst required to get everyone together to build the skatepark they actually want.”