It’s proving hard to dissuade skate boarders from using the concrete spaces at Te Papa o Ngā Manu Porotakataka (formerly Phoenix Car Park).
About 40 metal studs, designed to stop skateboarders, have been pulled out, resulting in damage to the concrete seating verge.
Mount Mainstreet’s cleaner Dean Wright says skateboarders have been pulling them out.
“I’ve seen them doing it during the day,” says Dean.
“They just bang them out or use pliers. I’ve picked up a pair of pliers that have been left on the ground.”
As well as the studs being extracted or bashed out, the drain grates have been lifted.
“I came in two Saturdays in a row and half of the grates were pulled out. People walking across in the dark – if they didn’t see, they could get very serious damage.”
He says the large grates over the drain on the road next to the bus stop have sometimes been moved too.
“They pull them out and if you got out of the bus and didn’t look…”
As well as being the cleaner 30 hours a week, starting about 5.30am, Dean puts up the Christmas decorations and takes a special pride in the town and the shopkeepers.
“I work for Mount Mainstreet and I’m proud of it.”
Dean says the skateboarders try to get in to use the park on a Sunday afternoon as soon as the market has ended at 1pm, but arrive earlier, creating pressure for people going to the market.
“While the skateboarders wait, they skate up and down outside the toilets, making it very hard for people at the market to go to the toilet, because the skateboards are going flying.”
The concrete along the ground has patterned marks etched into it, which Dean says was designed to discourage skateboarding.
The extensive metal stud damage around the outer rim of the park has been happening over the last month, but Dean says the damage to the concrete in the inner area of the park has been going on longer.
“They’ve been ripping them out. The other day the sign was also graffitied, not by the skateboarders but by the fella who did the 25 tags uptown two months ago. It’s the same colour paint.”
Dean says council staff came and cleaned up the graffiti. Council staff have also been to inspect the park damage with Mount Mainstreet manager Mandy Gillgren.
“I have been over there the last few weeks with council and am so disappointed in the damage,” says Mandy. “The new sign was tagged, the concrete has been damaged extensively from skateboards, the grills are moved at night time, cones are put out over there and the park was scribbled with chalk.”
Mandy says community spaces should be respected so everyone can use them as intended.
“The damage to the concrete benches could be a real hazard especially for a young child and it just makes a brand new space look tattered,” says Mandy.
“I’m a skateboarder from when I was a kid and this is not a good look for our town. I skateboarded but I didn’t vandalise,” says Dean.
“I’m really disappointed,” says Mandy.
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