By Justin Flynn
A Bellarine Peninsula skate park labelled the worst in Australia is set for a major transformation.
St Leonards skate park has remained virtually unchanged since skating magazine Thrasher rated it the worst in Australia in 2011.
“This is the worst park we’ve seen, bar none,” the magazine commented.
A two-year campaign by locals failed to attract any funding from the City of Greater Geelong for the upgrade in its proposed budget.
A rally march was due to be held in the town on May 14 but the state government came to the rescue with a $1.7 million boost for upgrading St Leonards and Waurn Ponds skate parks.
Community activism has been happening for years, most recently led by Bellarine Secondary College student Ethan Coleman, who gained 800 signatures on his change.org petition.
“I was very happy because we have been demanding a long time for this skate park,” 15-year-old Ethan said.
“It will be good for kids to catch up with each other and will get them off technology as well.
“I think most kids in town would use it whether they have a skateboard or not.
“They can use their scooter or their bike as well. Friends might join in even just for the social side of it.”
Ethan said everyone in St Leonards and the surrounding region fought hard for the skate park upgrade, particularly Portarlington Lions Club, St Leonards Primary School, Marie Reed and Libby Lesock.
State government anticipates construction to begin in 2021 for both “shovel-ready” council-planned projects, funded through the Community Sports Infrastructure Stimulus Program.
“I congratulate the skaters of St Leonards, led by Ethan Coleman, who have campaigned so hard to get a new facility and Lisa Neville MP for listening to them, then securing this funding,” acting Bellarine MP Gayle Tierney said.