The emotion on Sally-Ann Kircher’s face was clear as she watched crowds of skaters and scooters enjoying Methven’s new skate park, which sits proudly in the reserve at the Bank and McMillan Streets in the centre of town.
It is something she has worked tirelessly for, for nearly 13 years.
“It’s pretty awesome. I’m so proud. It’s beyond anything I could have imagined.”
For the Methven local, and mother and grandmother, it is extra special that her son, Sam Kircher, designed the skatepark that he will one day watch his two sons – Sally-Anns grandsons – play on.
“To build it with Sam was pretty special. He’s so talented.
“To see him put this together … it’s just awesome.”
Sally-Ann was motivated into action after family holiday to Wanaka when her sons were 10 and 12, when they visited the town’s skatepark.
“I said to my husband, we need one of them in Methven, and he said ‘do it!’
And so, the first meeting of the Methven Skatepark committee was held in 2007.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the project’s backer. With final plans secured early on by Australian company Playce, and the lease of the site all secured, the project came to a halt after a complaint was received about its location. It lay dormant for a few years.
“Months would go by, and we’d have another meeting,” Sally Ann said.
Then a few enthusiastic locals got together and it was picked up again and turned into an incorporated society. The committee was made of skaters, Dads, Mums and experienced fundraisers.“It was when the young guys came on board it really kicked off.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years, fundraising efforts have included drive-in movie nights, fireworks and hangi nights, tee shirts, coffee mugs, pies and a night market. It has also received $55,000 in grants. In all, $130,000 was raised.
Donations have come from throughout the community, including a ‘locals day’ at Mt Hutt Ski Resort Americar Rod and Custom Club of Ashburton, Methven Lions Club and from locals keen to see a skate park in Methven.
Liz McMillan, KidzMethven committee chair and Ashburton District deputy mayor, says the committee knew it was never going to happen overnight.
“We knew it was going to be a lot of money and going to take a lot of time.”
She remembers in 2016, after a long hiatus in the project, Josh Horn, a local Dad and owner of Civil Concrete, asking what was happening with the skate park. What followed was a meeting that would lead to plans once again coming to life.
The committee decided instead of engaging outside consultants, they would come up their own unique design.
“Sam (Kircher) and Josh (Horn) just started drawing and then that’s how it kind of evolved. And then Sam did the whole design of it.”
A skatepark was a much-needed boost for the town, she says.
“When I’ve been writing all the grants and things, one of the main things that people seem to be interested in is we’re quite isolated as a town, so there’s no public transport going anywhere. Any kids, if they want to do any activities, yes, there’s the pool and the bike park and the playgrounds, but we just want to add to that.
“You call it a skate park but you kind of know it’s going to be more. Scooters are really popular, so there’ll be kids scootering. We’re hoping that it’s at a level it can cater for everyone.
“Sally-Ann’s always joked she was building it for her kids and now she’s building it for her grandkids.”
She bats away suggestions that it could bring a bad element to town.
“If the community have ownership of it then the community will look after it
“It’s in a place where everyone drives past. There’s lights already up.”
Liz says she knew early on in construction that it would be a special place.
“The big thing for me was the walkthrough day that we had. Walking out into the top bit where the bowl was and looking up at Mt Hutt … and then looking over where the skatepark was going to be was just like oh my goodness this is going to be amazing.”
And now that dream has become a reality.