SHETLAND’S extreme sports fraternity are celebrating after local councillors backed a £100,000 grant to build a new skatepark in Lerwick on Wednesday.
The Shetland Skatepark Association has been campaigning for 10 years to build a facility in the town and was initially offered the cash by the council five years ago.
Their plans to build a skatepark at Clickimin fell through over a land purchase, but now they have identified a new site next to the Lerwick coastguard station at The Knab.
Shetland Islands Council’s social services committee backed the recommendation to reaffirm the original grant by six votes to three, despite councillor Allison Duncan arguing the authority could not afford such luxuries in these straitened times.
Convener Sandy Cluness led the call for the grant to delivered, saying the SIC had made a promise to support the venture six years ago and it had a duty to stick to that promise. It will be up to the full council to ratify the decision later this month.
The decision was welcomed by SSA chairman James Stewart who said they now had to work hard to raise a further £150,000 to build a skatepark at The Knab.
“We’re delighted that we have got past the first hurdle, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.
“This feels like a relief because this campaign has been going on long before the association was set up in 2001 and it’s great this kind of sport is being given the opportunity for a venue to practice in. For me it symbolises a brighter future for the scene in Shetland.”
In 2005 the association had managed to raise more than £200,000 to build a skatepark, but lost over £100,000 in external funding when the Clickimin land deal fell through.
Some of its 50 active members intend to meet up at the end of this month to work out a plan for attracting sufficient cash back into their coffers, using the council grant as a basis for their funding applications.
Currently Shetland’s skating, skateboarding and BMX bike enthusiasts have to practice on the streets and car parks in Lerwick, which is considered dangerous because of traffic.
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