The acrobatics weren’t visible, but township councillors did a 180 on a plea from local skateboarders to extend the half pipe at the Wellesley arena, approving the user group’s plans.
After a second recommendation from staff against it, council this week decided to allow local skateboarders to renovate and expand the half pipe currently located on the west side of the arena.
A large group of local skateboarders were at the council meeting on Tuesday night in support of the project.
The request had been discussed at two previous meetings, where opinions seemed to lean against it.
Recreation director Brad Voisin had a long-term view of a designated skate park, pushing for a permanent skate park in the recommendation.
In his report, Voisin recommends the group, “develop a purpose-built skateboard park in the village of Wellesley and work with the community and local partners to confirm timing, location, design, and funding.”
There were still some questions about safety, specifically around parking, car traffic in the area and proximity to a natural gas meter.
“Staff believe that moving the ramp to the corner of the building will create a safety hazard with kids stepping on the side of the ramp,” he said. “There may not always be traffic there, but there could be.”
Ian McLuer maintains the half pipe currently, and is a driving force behind the group lobbying for the upgrades and expansion. He assured councillors the half pipe could be moved, allowing for the required three-foot gap around the meter.
When the recommendation came up for a vote, Coun. Herb Neher took the chance to tell the skateboarders at the meeting that they had changed his mind after he initially questioned the request at previous meetings.
“I was very reluctant at first, as I indicated,” he said. “After hearing some of the presentations that some of you folks made and giving it some further thought, you made some good points. How many years it is really going to take to really develop land and get a skate park going?”
Mayor Joe Nowak echoed Neher’s comments.
“They have put a lot of effort and time into this. It’s their money and I think it is good for them to see some results from their efforts.”
Having rejected the staff recommendation, council passed a new motion in support of bringing the half pipe up to safety codes, while encouraging skateboarders to keep fundraising for a permanent skate park facility. All were in favour.
The group has raised approximately $6,900, with the expansion project expected to cost around $1,200.