Young people in Stoke say they are crying out for something to do. Last week the Nelson Weekly reported on a council document that outlined a raft of violence at Nelson libraries.
The report particularly focused on Stoke, where librarians had been assaulted. As a result, the council deployed security guards and youth workers to help diffuse the situation.
“We just want something to do,” says one young person who the Nelson Weekly spoke to.
“There’s nothing to do around here. We’re just bored.”
Owner of Squires café Kim Hall says that the problem is nothing new and has an obvious solution.
“For the 30 years since I’ve been here the kids have been asking for a skatepark. Instead, you bought them a security guard.”
“You’ve got all these great areas around here to put a skatepark. The area where they took out the tennis courts for instance. Right next to the police station, what trouble would they get into there?”
A skatepark had been on the council’s agenda in 2011 and they were set to vote through a $500,000 option to go at Greenmeadows.
However, it was voted down at the last minute after concerns that it might cause some traffic issues.
Instead, council approved a $6.4 million multi-use centre that is under construction.
The building has been controversial with strong support from Stoke sports and community groups, but others have questioned the site and cost.
There is nothing within the new centre that is dedicated to youth.\
“You’ve got a council who are right outside our shop just 52 metres away from traffic lights, spending $100,000 on a traffic island for pedestrians, but they can’t address a problem with nowhere for these youth to go,” Kim says.
Stoke resident Carmon Lawson says if the council looked at the suburb it would see that it needs facilities for all sectors – youth, families and the elderly.
“Then maybe some of these issues may be resolved.”
Nelson City councillor Gaile Noonan says that the council was looking at what options there might be for young people in the area.
“You can’t tell youth where to go. They gravitate wherever they feel comfortable.”
The council report cites factors contributing to the issues as being poor design of the library and surrounds, attraction of the free Wi-Fi and shelter, and the lack of suitable alternative youth facilities in the Stoke area.
Youth worker Liam Doherty, who has been at the library for the past two weeks, says the young people really need a skatepark.
“Or at Greenmeadows. They need somewhere where they can be themselves and be young people. Once they have that input they can start to take a bit of responsibility.”