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Monday Feb 03, 2014

Cape skate park under fire

An already controversial skate park being developed under the Mill Street bridge in Gardens has hit another speed bump, with German skate park designer Hannes Nockel warning of poor construction that he says could prove dangerous for users.

Skate park designer Hannes Nockel is worried about the safety of rides so far constructed.

Nockel, the founder of German skate park building company Anker Rampen, is complaining that not only has he not received credit for his design, which dates back two-and-ahalf years, but that he would never have okayed some of the changes.

Nockel claims he merged with South African company Spyda Ramps, which builds wood, metal and concrete skate parks. They allegedly took his design and gave it to the city, without any compensation or recognition for him.

But Spyda Ramps head Clive Crofton has hit back, saying that while Nockel offered 'ideas here and there', his company did all the designs and plans.

The park, which has raised the hackles of some local residents for its positioning at a very busy intersection across the road from the Gardens MyCiTi bus station, includes a brick foundation and brick retaining walls.

It will cover an area of 480m 2, and has been designed in a plaza style, with stairs, handrails and marble ledges. It includes traditional skate park elements such as quarter pipes, banks, rails and a pipe jam - which will be the only one of its kind in South Africa.

And Crofton says it's almost all the work of Spyda Ramps, and that Nockel merely helped him elevate the design to an international level.

Asked to comment, city mayco member for economic, environmental and spatial planning, Garreth Bloor, said they had only ever dealt with Crofton, the director of Spyda Ramps.

Nockel was also vocal this week on safety issues, saying he was worried that the construction company engaged wasn't familiar with building skate parks, which were 'tricky things'.

'You have to look at changes in gradient and the angle of ramps. You can't mess up a skate park in that way. The slightest bump can ruin it and cause injury, and the company may not know this,' Nockel said, adding that it was 'common to not get it right'. His comments raised the ire of Jaco Ferreira, engineering contractor of NAMMIC Engineering in Cape Town, who said they had seven years of experience in building and concrete works. He would not comment on any specialisation they may have in building skate parks. He said their company simply constructed 'according to the design given'.

Bloor said the engineering company had a Construction Industry Development Board grading of 5CE, which qualified them to bid for construction tenders to the value of R6.5 million.

The value of the skate park project is R3.1m.

He added that they met all the functionality requirements of the competitive bid process.

As an alternative back-up, the city had also appointed an external consultant to monitor and supervise the construction work on site, along with an operational health and safety agent to monitor compliance with the Operational Health and Safety Plan.

Local resident Niel Bell told Weekend Argus that while the project was aimed at uplifting the area, busy roads in such close range raised the dangers of 'overzealous skateboarders landing on my bonnet'.

Another resident, Shelley Willars, said the area was 'dangerous for children', especially because 'impatient drivers often jump red robots at the intersection'.

Addressing residents' safety concerns, Bloor said a permeable fence would prevent skaters from directly crossing Maynard Street to the bus station.

'The same fence will channel pedestrian movement towards the existing safe, signalised pedestrian crossing at the intersections of the on and off ramps from Jutland Avenue on to Maynard Street,' he said.

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)


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