St Kilda Skate Park Rates in Top 10

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By: Natalie King

Hailed by international professional skaters as one of the best skate parks in the world, St Kilda Skate Park officially opened on Friday the 22nd of March as a part of the Marina Reserve, located on the St Kilda Foreshore. Deputy Mayor of the City of Port Phillip, Cr Serge Thomann spoke at the opening and told the crowd that US-based skater Eric Koston had said to him: “Dude, this is one of the top 10 skate parks in the world”. Local resident and Australian skateboard champion, Renton Millar held the same view and explained that the progressive terrain used in the skate bowl and amazing design aesthetics made it an upgrade from other skate parks. Renton has been involved with the project for over 10 years, alongside Thomann, ensuring the development of a top skate space in St Kilda.

However, initially convincing Millar to take part and collaborate on the project was a challenge and Thomann was forced to ask a mutual friend to intervene when Millar would not return his phone calls. The pro skater eventually got back to Thomann and a meeting was arranged.

“I’m glad that you swallowed your pride and came and had breakfast with me at The Vineyard to talk about what we have done,” Thomann said smiling at Millar who was standing among the crowd. While the skate park was built over the last 12 months, Thomann has worked tirelessly with the City of Port Phillip over 16 years, overcoming various setbacks to ensure the completion of St Kilda’s Skate Park.

“The past four years have been very challenging for Council and for myself to say the least… but to get such acknowledgement certainly makes me proud and [I] think that the effort we have put in was worthwhile,” Thomann said.

Thomann went on to explain how the Marina Reserve has turned an unused space into an attractive, multipurpose park that caters for all members of the community. Featuring a skate space, beachside BBQ, picnic and play area, walking paths, a new bike lane, additional coastal vegetation and seating, and quiet spaces to watch the water and skyline views, the area has something for everyone.

“It’s great to have a space where kids can be active and physical, where they can meet their friends and make new friends and get involved in a creative and fun sport,” Thomann said. He then admitted that he had trespassed onto the Reserve many times over the last couple of months, witnessing local children and teenagers meet other children from around Melbourne and begin to form friendships.

While some local residents were opposed to the development of the skate park, fearing it may encourage graffiti and bad behaviour, Thomann explained that while this might be true of other skate parks positioned underneath bridges or hidden away, the St Kilda Skate Park is in a prominent location within everybody’s view, thus deterring any anti-social behaviour. Millar was of the same opinion stating the Council has a strict zero tolerance policy when it comes to graffiti: “If it gets graffitied it will be cleaned off straight away. The users of the skate park don’t like the graffiti, that’s for sure. All the guys that I know would prefer that it didn’t get graffitied,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of his fellow Council members, Thomann expressed his delight and excitement at being at the launch and his commitment to keeping the space family friendly: “Council is committed to seeing this Reserve to be striving well in to the future as a community space and we have developed an operation plan of the future management and maintenance of the area to keep it relevant and beautiful”.

With black rubber grip marks staining the terrain it’s obvious the space has already been a big hit over the past three months and Thomann hasn’t been the only trespasser. Dressed in baggy shorts and t-shirts, backwards caps, hoodies and sneakers, skateboarders, bike riders and rollerbladers glided effortlessly dipping in and out of the long awaited skate bowl. Bodies contorted twisting into tricks midair and landing smoothly back on solid ground. Flown in to join the celebrations was nine-year-old Keegan Palmer, the youngest ever professional skater from Queensland. Performing tricks for the crowd Palmer said he loved the space because it’s really fast and fun. Over the last couple of months Millar has been taking his son Max who is not yet two-years-old to the St Kilda Skate Park and said he loves it: “He loves skating but he doesn’t understand hurting himself yet so he’ll just try and run into the deep bowl, which is probably not the smartest thing to do,” Millar said.

Thomann concluded his speech to the crowd highlighting the hard work and effort put in by the Council and community members in developing the Marina Reserve: “Nothing worthwhile is easy and as you know this project has been a long term goal of the City of Port Phillip for over 20 years and it could not have happened without the valuable contribution of many community members along the way”.

Thanking everyone for coming to the launch and supporting the project over the years, Thomann then cut the ribbon symbolising the official opening of the skate park. Millar wrapped up the launch inviting everyone to enjoy the space and disappeared as he dove down into the bowl expertly riding his skateboard.

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