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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Tampines skate park offers more spills than thrills

Repairs done to fix bolts coming off ramps, rails, but design still criticised.
The Straits Times - November 8, 2012
By: Eisen Teo
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Tampines skate park offers more spills than thrills Skateboarder Muhammad Hazrin, 17, performing a kickflip up the ramp at the Tampines park last week. Complaints about the new skate park include obstacles that are too difficult for beginners. -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

ABOUT two months after a skate park was unveiled in Tampines, workmen have had to return to repair it.

Skateboarders had complained of screws and bolts coming off ramps and rails, and ramps with uneven joints.

Some repairs were carried out two weeks ago, but skateboarders are still saying the park, which is opposite Tampines MRT station, could have been better designed.

Among their complaints: lack of shelter when it rains; obstacles that are too high, making them unsuitable for beginners; and too few obstacles.

"You can cover the whole skate park in a few seconds," said Mr Luqman Ang, 22, who is an operations manager.

Skateboarders also wonder why their views were not sought when Tampines Skate Park was being built. "It's like getting people who don't play football to build a football field," said Mr Syafiq Amin, 19, a full-time national serviceman.

Skateboarders list the Somerset Skate Park and East Coast Park's Xtreme SkatePark as their favourites. The construction of these sites had input from either skateboarders or professional skate park design companies.

The Tampines Skate Park was commissioned by the Tampines Town Council as part of a yet-to-be-officially-opened community plaza park. All this is part of the Tampines Masterplan announced last year.

Soon after it opened, skateboarders noted its defects. In September, one of them, Ms Valerie Ong, 36, a consultant in the finance industry, informed the town council.

Besides tightening and replacing screws and bolts, a safety barrier was built around the skate park to make it safer and to prevent damage to skateboards.

A town council spokesman told The Straits Times it will continue to work with the community plaza park's project manager to ensure that the skate park is safe for users.

She said that while the town council did not consult skateboarders when building the skate park, its design "was based on professional merit and safety".

While the park "may not be state-of-the-art… it is a facility with minimal, basic equipment".

The spokesman added that public consultations and exhibitions were held last January for the Tampines Masterplan. Information such as a masterplan book was also handed out to residents.

Mr Baey Yam Keng, a Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC, said any unsafe conditions should be rectified.

But he added: "As to how suitable the skate park is, skateboarders of different skill levels would have different expectations... Due to financial constraints, I hope the public understands that the authorities are not able to meet all requests."

Ms Ong, meanwhile, noted that the skate parks at East Coast and Somerset are not sheltered, and hopes the Government can build a sheltered extreme sports plaza not just for skateboarders, but also for inline skaters, bicycle motocross riders and other extreme sports enthusiasts. There are an estimated 30,000 of them.

It should replicate a street environment unlike most skate parks in Singapore, "to enable the skateboarding scene to progress to international standards".

The skateboarder of 23 years and mother of three launched an online petition on Sept 23 asking the Government to do this. It has garnered almost 1,500 signatures.

In 1999, Ms Ong and other skateboarders started a "Skateboard Awareness Month" which led to the building of a skate park in Orchard. It later moved to Somerset.

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