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Wednesday, 22 May 2019 10:41 pm

Lower Tory St project attracts people – but not the desired ones

“Saturday, Sunday all it was, was a skatepark,” says Amelia Lingonis.

A battleground is forming over who will claim lower Tory Street – skateboarders, children or homeless people.

Despite the introduction of ‘no skateboarding’ signage on street furniture, skateboarders have managed to cause issues with locals in the area.

Retailer Amelia Lingonis says she had to call the police two Saturday nights ago after skateboarders refused to leave the area.

When she and local residents asked them to leave due to the noise, the skateboarders became verbally abusive and tried to get into her store Smack Bang when it had closed.

“The signs aren’t working and something more needs to be done to discourage what can only be called teenage gangs from gathering there,” she says.

Damage to wooden seating from skateboards.

Georgia Hudson, a Wellingtonian skateboarder, says the community needs more places to skate so they are not in the wrong places.

“There’s not enough for skaters around the city anyway though, it’s a bit of a battle, we use what we can,” she says.

Waitangi Park suffers from overcrowding because it is the only well-concreted place to skate in the city.

A ‘DIY’ skate area behind Wellington Hospital is ‘cool’ but it has rough concrete she says.

“If we put in the money to do it up then that would be a really good space for people to skate, rather than being in places where they shouldn’t like the [Pukeahu National War] memorial or Tory Street,” she says.

Peter Fraser the urban designer of the projects says, he likes the idea of skateboarders in the area but they are a bit of a problem.

“The people who designed the project did not consider skateboarders in their design. Now there have been consequences,” he says.

Fraser says the ‘no skateboarding’ signs were put up last week after local residents and stakeholders made complains about the noise.

Eric Kong, the assistant CEO of Dragons Restaurant says, the skateboarders are letting the area down.

He says the project is bringing people to the area, but the people that pass by don’t like it due to the large amount of people using the wooden areas as a skate park.

Liz Standish the manager of Brendon Motors says that the noise from skate boarders isn’t an issue for them, but the safety for young children around skateboards is.

“We already saw a kid get hit with a skateboard last week when the Cuba Street festival was on,” she says.

The temporary design was created by Victoria University Architect students and will be there in place for three months, during which public feedback is being sought on its future.

Sub heading – Drunk and Homeless

“That wasn’t there in one night, that is weeks of buildup” says Amelia Lingonis

The drunk and homeless people to the lower Tory St area are causing locals to feel unsafe.

Jo George the owner of Checkmate a gay sauna says, one of his customers was heckled from people sitting on the other side of the road drinking.

“When people are being abused when people come in, then that really affects our business. Word of mouth gets around so fast,” he says.

“When we had cars out there, once in a blue moon somebody might say something.

“After dark it seems to fill up, or not fill up, but there is always a certain number of people drinking there. There is vomit and broken glass,” he says.

Peter Fraser has asked for Tory Street to be included in the LED light upgrade as a way to help more light into the area.

Amelia Lingonis says there had been a man sitting drinking outside her dog retail store for two days straight, but children playing in the area made it difficult for him to get comfortable.

“Sunday was lucky that the kids got there first. So it’s like a battle to see who gets there first,” she says.

Mayor Justin Lester says at the launch of the project it was about getting people into lower Tory Street, and it was already starting to work.

“You’ve got people hanging out, you’ve got people outside, you’ve got businesses providing really good feedback. And as a result you’ve got a whole lot of people coming up and down, which is the whole point” says Lester.


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