Sick of waiting, a community built its own skate park

Homegrown: Oscar Simmonite trying out the DIY skate park built by locals in Port Kembla. Picture: Sylvia Liber
Homegrown: Oscar Simmonite trying out the DIY skate park built by locals in Port Kembla. Picture: Sylvia Liber

They missed out on some of the millions in dedicated funding, so they took matters into their own hands and built a skate park.

It's called the PKDIY park - in a nod to the do-it-yourself nature of the facility on the basketball courts at the northern end of King George V Park in Port Kembla, near Wollongong.

The park was funded by community donations, as well as the sales of a fundraising T-shirt.

The project started out as a home-schooling assignment for Port Kembla's Will Mitry's skateboarding son during the 2021 lockdown.

"When it was my turn to do the home-schooling I preferred to do the design and technology style of teaching," Mr Mitry said.

"So we built a couple of features with my 12-year-old and took them down there. From there it just snowballed; a few of the other kids brought down some similar things and we ended up with about nine or 10 different features.

"The place became a hub during the lockdown for the kids."

With help of community volunteers, Mr Mitry has been renovating the surface of the half-pipe and other features - paid for with cash from those T-shirt sales.

Mr Mitry hoped a funding program dedicated to Port Kembla would build something similar for the teens in the area.

Since 2016, the state government's Port Kembla Community Investment Fund has handed out almost $8 million in grants.

"We've been pretty disappointed up to now that we haven't really seen many benefits for young kids in the money that has been spent in Port Kembla," he said.

"I can't say there's been one thing that has been produced for the kids of Port Kembla. It's gone to some good things, but nothing for the kids of Port Kembla.

"There's a great opportunity with the Port Kembla investment fund to build a permanent good solution for the skateboaders in the area."

Wollongong City Council is aware of the skate park; Mr Mitry said he had met with representatives and there had been discussions about helping develop the park.

A council spokeswoman said they preferred that others not build their own skate park.

"While council does not encourage community groups to install skate facilities on public land, we know that we have an enthusiastic skating community in Port Kembla," she said.

"Council's role is to strike a balance between the interests of all community members when it comes to how our public spaces are used.

"All equipment in council-managed parks and land must have appropriate certification, and part of the certification process includes ensuring it does not increase risk to other skaters or park users."

This story Sick of waiting, a community built its own skate park first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.