Central ward councillor Steve Tucker has weighed into the debate over where to site a revamped skate park on the Tilligerry peninsula, vowing that the final decision would be reached only after consultation with skate users and "not the over 60 year olds".
Cr Tucker said that understandably there had been community division on whether to upgrade the existing skate park in Mallabula or to relocate and construct a brand new facility along the Lemon Tree Passage foreshore.
But for longtime Tilligerry youth centre coordinator Jenny Wilcox, who is familiar with many of the youth using the Mallabula skate park, the imminent focus should be on constructing the 'missing link' pathway between Mallabula and Lemon Tree Passage.
"This community has been waiting for decades to have a shared bike and pedestrian pathway linking the two town centres so that kids can cycle or scoot between the two towns in safety. Yes we are grateful for council's decision to upgrade or build a new skate park, but the priority should be on safety," she said.
At its November 26 meeting, Port Stephens councillors agreed to the budget allocations for the 2020 central ward community projects after a draft document was placed on public exhibition in October, attracting four submissions.
The budget set aside $230,000 for the upgrade and possible relocation of the skate park.
Other projects which formed the $600,000 council pledge included an upgrade of the soccer and athletics club amenities at Mallabula sports complex ($200,000); multi-sport court facility at Mallabula ($150,000); and barbecue facilities at Tanilba Bay's Peace Park ($20,000).
Two of the submissions questioned the council's proposal to relocate the skate park. "[My] concern raised with the potential relocation [will] impact on youth and anti-social behaviour linked to the relocation," one resident wrote.
Tilligerry Landcare Group said there preference was for an upgrade of the Mallabula skate park with a "requirement for public amenities to support the asset".
Cr Tucker said that while his preference was for relocation, the council would consult with the community, including the kids and families who utilise the park in preference to "the over 60-year-old" brigade.
"There is a concern about the lack of services in Mallabula, where the kids often have to walk long distances to use public toilets. Also, the current structure has deteriorated somewhat, with signs of rust in some of the structures."
Ms Wilcox, who often attends the skate park with her daughter and grandchild, insisted that the missing link pathway, earmarked by the council for an $800,000 development, should be a priority.
"I have no preference as to where the new skate park is sited, my concern is for our youth's safety. The current skate park is frequently used but it is isolated, maybe we can have some amenities built adjacent to an upgraded skate park."
Last December Tilligerry Community Association lodged a petition, with 633 signatures, with the council seeking a shared bike path/walkway. Its construction has since been included in the 2020 capital works after the collapse of the SRV.
The council report said that the Mallabula location did not provide for passive surveillance, community awareness or integration with other support facilities and amenities.
"The future location for this asset is yet to be determined and would be subject to a further community consultation process."