For three years skaters at the Nambucca Heads facility have had to pursue their sport surrounded by wire, including a crown of barbs.
But no more … on Tuesday afternoon the fence, known as the cage or the prison, came down and local skaters are relieved.
The fence was the result of complaints by two residents, who claimed the Nambucca Shire Council had not properly heeded their calls and had commenced legal proceedings.
Their claim that the council was in breach of its development consent for the park was upheld in 2014, leading to a mediated settlement with the court ruling in favour of a fence with a gate that was locked outside hours.
The mayor Rhonda Hoban said it was a huge relief to see the fence gone.
“I think it was long overdue – unfortunately the settlement required the fence stayed in place while-ever the two residents were living there, however now one has moved and the other has passed,” Rhonda said.
“I hope we can all move on from this and it is the start of a new era that sees the skaters get back to enjoying their facility responsibly, as was the original intention.”
President of the Valley Skaters Association, Toby Frost, said he was aware the removal was pending and relieved it has finally been done.
“About eight months ago we were told there would be a six-month trial to leave the gate unlocked and if there were no problems, then the fence would come down,” Toby said.
“Now it’s down and it’s great … but there is still a long way to go to build our skating community back up.
“We had a really vibrant thing happening before the fence, with competitions and workshops and lots of people coming here – that was taken away. We’d love to see that going again but it will take time.”
Toby said the skaters wanted to work with the council to build positive connections in the community.
“We are hoping this is the start of a new era – the park needs a face lift and the concrete needs resurfacing.
“This is a fresh start and hopefully everyone is keen to put fresh energy into it.”
He added that skating was now an Olympic sport and there was talent to be fostered in the shire.
Referring to the troubled history of the facility, the mayor said while the fence drew criticism and incurred costs, it was nothing compared to the alternative of a full-blown court case.
“We were warned that pursuing that path could have seen additional onerous measures imposed, skyrocketing costs and even led to the park being removed altogether.”
Both she and the general manager, Michael Coulter, said they had received no complaints about the facility during the six month trial period.