Teen calls on council to build skatepark

Wollongong city councillors have long debated the site of a southern suburbs skatepark - now 16-year-old Dylan Lawrence is having an input.

At last week's council meeting, student and skater Dylan outlined his proposal to have a facility built at Howard Fowles Park, opposite the Illawarra Yacht Club in Warrawong.

The industrious young man had walked the neighbourhood streets for months getting hundreds of signatures on a petition in favour of the site, which he presented to the council.

"Young people in this area want a skatepark built as a place not only to skate, but to just hang out - it would stop them getting up to mischief," Dylan told the Mercury.

"The closest skatepark is in Fairy Meadow or Dapto and that's too far to travel for us. A lot of kids skate in the carparks at the Illawarra Yacht Club or Westfield Warrawong and the security guards are always telling us to move on.

"There's nowhere else to skate or ride your scooter but on the streets and that's dangerous; it won't be too long till some kid gets cleaned up."

In July, council staff revealed that plans had fallen through to build a skatepark on some vacant land next to Lake Illawarra because site investigations had found the soil was unstable.

An investigation into land at Holborn Park, opposite the Berkeley Sports Centre, has begun.

However, Dylan told councillors last week that such a facility was needed in Warrawong too.

"There are problems between the kids living in Warrawong and Berkeley, so the location of the park is important," he said.

"If the skatepark is built at Berkeley it won't help the problems of the young people where I live. It would cause more fighting and trouble between the young people in the two areas."

Dylan attends Alesco Learning Centre at WEA Illawarra and his principal Rhonda Thearle accompanied him to the council meeting.

"I was a bit nervous," he admitted, "but everyone listened and they all clapped at the end so hopefully my message got through.

"People have been talking about getting a skatepark in Warrawong since I was a little kid; it's time to actually do something about it."

Dylan's mother, Kim Taylor, said she was proud of her son for speaking up. "Everyone wants a skatepark - but he's putting his words into action," she said. "[Howard Fowles] park is pretty bare, with just some run-down play equipment, so why not turn it into something all the kids in the area can use?"

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