REFLECTIONS ON TWO VERY DIFFERENT PUBLIC MEETINGS ON THE SKATE PLAZA

This week there were two very well attended public meetings on the Fremantle skate plaza. Both had more than 150 people attend.

The first was FICRA’s Tuesday night public meeting and I was disappointed with both its tone and substance. I would have I preferred a forum that was more respectful, constructive and less adversarial. A black and white – either you are you for it or against it- missed the opportunity for collaborative compromise. And the idea that yelling at and booing down people you don’t agree with is going to change their minds is one that is, somewhat ironically, pretty immature.

I was however very impressed by the large numbers of young people that came to the Fremantle Council meeting on Wednesday night. Their comments were thoughtful and respectful and I came away deeply impressed by how articulate Fremantle’s youth were. I could write quite a lot on this but Griffin Longley’s fantastic piece in today’s West Australian covers it perfectly and I have pasted this below.  It includes the excerpt:

“I was at the meeting because I think it is fundamental to the health of communities that young people are embraced and valued. That they aren’t treated as a policing issue and pushed out to the fringes where their annoying habits are less likely to get in the way of adult sensitivities. And I was there because I suspected that the meeting would be dominated by the voices of the council spotting regulars. I could not have been more wrong.”

Also check out City Ward Councillor Rachel Pemberton’s thoughtful blog post on this issue.

http://www.rachelpemberton.com.au/skating-the-issue/#more-363

Griffin Longely

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

7 Responses to REFLECTIONS ON TWO VERY DIFFERENT PUBLIC MEETINGS ON THE SKATE PLAZA

  1. Timothy says:

    Finally a win for the (usually) silent majority. Please let this be a lesson to us all that the naysayers, anti-change advocates and the pompous loudmouths can be put in their place with considered, polite and respectful debate.

    Well done to the gen x and y brigade and to Council for sticking to good policy, regardless of the scare tactics and mistruths spewed out by the usual suspects.

  2. Eloise Dortch says:

    I didn’t attend FICRA’s meeting because I feared it would be exactly as you described it, Brad, and I didn’t want my concern about more loss of parkland on the Esplanade, this time due to the skate park, to be misrepresented and obscured in the general unpleasantness and negativity being promoted by FICRA.

    If only the Cl had run a proper community engagement process, people with a real interest in the park (because we currently use it and love it) could have been part of the decision-making process, and maybe we would have ended up with a win-win situation rather than a win-lose situation. Instead, the design of the initial consultation and the Council’s follow-up online survey was wholly on focused on what skateboarders wanted, not what people who already used the park might want, or accept, by way of compromise. There was no ”community engagement”, only ”interest-group engagement”.

    I am still struggling to accept the fact that this Council cares so little about genuine community decision-making. Every self-congratulating pat on the back I am reading by Councillors about this decision being a win for democracy makes me feel very much as if Fremantle is not the home I had until now felt it to be.

    • Timothy says:

      It’s 9% of the total space Eloise. That means that 91% of the park is available as was. What’s the issue?

      • It is clearly anticipated that this skating plaza will be a popular hub of activity. It is proposed that it be positioned in the middle of the park, towards the back along the railway line. The extra activity won’t just be isolated in that location, people have to walk to and from the facility, either across the grass or perhaps on paths leading to it? So the whole thing spiders out. If some paths were to be put in to the plaza, they would end up as skate paths too (regardless of how many signs are put up saying not to). So even though the designated skating area is towards the back, there will be increased activity across the whole park.

        If it is successful, it will have more of an impact on the atmosphere and dynamics of the park than many may think, (even if the kids are all perfect angles). That is why there have been suggestions to have it at the southern end or on Beach Street. This would leave the park for quiet reflection. There are also lots of studies about teenagers being over stimulated these days. They also need quiet calming places to go.

        People who visit the park will have to steer clear of the skate plaza path ways and parents especially will have to watch out for toddlers who may get knocked over? Teenagers will be tearing around on wheels at high speeds! Will the council be putting fences around the tracks?

        This isn’t a small neighborhood skate bowl, it is a state of the art skateboarding plaza which is also being designed for local, national and international competitions as well.

        So this is not just about just accommodating a bunch of disadvantage kids who have been shunned from society and need somewhere to hang, as it is being intimated by some. Skateboarding is big business these days and a growing industry. Did you know that kids don’t buy clothes from surf shops anymore, that industry is in crisis. Many kids are now buying expensive clothes and shoes from skate shops. Skateboarding is being turned into a commercialized sport.

        Though some are clearly looking forward to all the action. Is it so hard to understand that others value tranquility in a park?

        I find the lack of ignorance in Perth around the need for calm quiet green parkland staggering? Does it all have to be buzz, buzz, flash, flash? There are ample studies that show that quiet green areas are very important for public health, as they provide tranquil places for people to escape their fast lives and bustling city streets. That is the whole point of them.

        Councillors should go to their own open-space strategic plans or policies and the Health Department’s too and read up on it. Not everyone has or can afford a lovely tranquil back yard to escape into! With all of the high-rise that is being planned for Freo, where will the people go for a quiet mental health break? It seems many see park space as just idle meaningless grass or wasted space that needs to be developed and replaced with something fast, flashy and “vibrant”?

      • Eloise Dortch says:

        9.5% Timothy – you round up to 10 if you prefer a round figure – and that’s the immediate footprint.
        The issue is that the park has already been encroached upon significantly by tacky commercial enterprises and frequent weekend/week-long events that exclude regular users from large parts of the park and leave it in a poor state (grass worn through to mud) afterwards, so people like me don’t want to lose another 10%. My guess from your question Timothy is that you are not someone who uses the park regularly now. You will not be aware of how on weekends in fine weather (on those weekends when there is not an event excluding us) masses of families and people of all ages and backgrounds pack out the park – you can struggle to find a free patch of grass. Much of the Esplanade has already been lost, so shouldn’t the community who live nearby and the other people who already use the park a lot have been engaged in such a significant decision about its future?
        As pages 21-22 of the consultant’s concept report shows, initial consultation was done mainly with skateboarders, followed up by an online survey on the Council’s website that you could only complete if you agreed to either Option 1 or 2 for the skatepark, both of which take 9.5% of the park. I don’t know how much you know about community engagement, but it should be fairly obvious from what I have just outlined that true ‘community’ engagement (as in, consulting beyond just one interest group) did not occur.
        Cheers for your question.

  3. Liam says:

    Maybe it hasnt yet occoured that most members of the FICRA have only a few years remaining on this earth so I would suggest doing something productive and that you enjoy with your time. The kids of Freo are tomorrows Freo. Having your own little club of all your like minded friends doesn’t make you the unanimous voice of Fremantle. I can invite 200 of my friends to my house any weekend and we could have votes with every person in favor but that still doesn’t make us the voice of Freo (maybe it should as we are going to be here for longer).

    I would like th thank the FICRA for teaching all the young’uns how to be heard. It was something a lot of up didn’t know until now.

    Congratulations to the Mayor and team for hearing and acting on what the people want and being so forward thinking. My friends and I thank you.

  4. It is a shame this has been such a divisive issue as I think once finished will be a great community assist that all will enjoy. That said, Council is looking at tweaking the plans to minimize impacts on the park and I am confident we can do that so there will be active places and well as quiet places in the park depending on your mood.
    Eloise, to answer you question why there? That was the location advertised and publicly supported in the masterplan for the park. I accept the plaza in the masterplan was quite a lot smaller than the one planned now but that was the the reason for the location.
    Also no one – despite lots of racking our collective brains – has come up with a better location that has the attributes of being in the city center, with good passive surveillance while not too close to residential and under the City of Fremantle’s control (which rules out land on the other side of the rail line)
    I hope this helps
    cheers, Brad

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