New Jersey mayor backs call for gas site skate park

New Jersey Mayor Walter Gusciora visited the Island for this year’s Liberation Day celebrations Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (38036187)

THE mayor of St Helier’s sister city in the US has urged Jersey’s government to “seize the opportunity” that the former Jersey Gas site could offer as a skate park.

Walter Reed Gusciora, who recently visited the Island for Liberation Day celebrations, said that an indoor skate park built in his city in a similar space to the utility company’s former showroom and warehouse had been a “huge success”.

St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft, who is also Assistant Infrastructure Minister, last month unveiled proposals for a large indoor skate park at the site.

He said ministers were sitting on a “goldmine of opportunity” for children’s play in the centre of town and the JEP reported that Mr Crowcroft was intending to bring a proposition asking States Members to back his project – and rescind the priority currently given for the site to house a new town primary school.

Former Housing Minister David Warr – who has thrown his support behind the idea – said that the need for the town school had passed, after recent figures showed that the Island’s birth rate was in decline.

Education Minister Rob Ward and former Education Minister Inna Gardiner are committed to building a primary school at the site, having both brought separate amendments to the Bridging Island Plan to secure the land for educational use.

And Deputy Catherine Curtis, chair of the Children, Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel, wants to amend the wording of the Common Strategic Policy to ensure that it includes reference to a town school.

Mayor Gusciora said he visited the site with Mr Crowcroft and had a chance to “visualise the possibilities”.

Indoor skate park in Trenton (38037918)

He said: “It would double the space of Millennium Town Park and it seems a shame that government is not seizing the opportunity.”

The Freedom Skate Park in Trenton had been a “success”, he said, adding: “We took an old industrial building and transformed it into the only indoor skate park in our state, which has proved very popular.”

He continued: “Now we’re building an outdoor one, and there always seems to be a need for expanding recreational facilities.”

At a previous Scrutiny hearing, Deputy Curtis said that there would be concern from people living in northern St Helier if there was any question that the school project would not be going ahead.

In the report accompanying her amendment to the Common Strategic Policy, she said that there was “very little detail” in the document about how the government intended to address the “urgent need” for school facilities and infrastructure in town.

She said: “The addition of the wording in the panel’s proposed amendment does not change the priorities proposed by government, but it would insert a recognition that there should be a focus on the school infrastructure and education estate in town during the remainder of this electoral term.”

The Common Strategic Policy, published last month and due to be debated by the States Assembly on 21 May, sets out the areas where Chief Minister Lyndon Farnham and his fellow ministers want to make progress ahead of the Island’s next general election.

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