Sunny and not so funny sides of Weaver Park

It’s a welcome addition to the area – but the new park on Cork Street attracts a lot of skaters and a little bit of trouble.

Weaver Park was opened in October 2017 as part of the Liberties Greening Strategy. Due to a lack of recreational green spaces in this area, this strategy got implemented to make heritage green spaces accessible, refurbish existing ones and to put forward a vision for a network of new urban parks.

The entrance to Weaver Park. Photos: Lisa-Marie Siml

During the planning phase the community in this area had a huge part to play in the design of the park.

Even though it is a relatively small space for a park, the landscape architecture company Ait Urbanism + Landscape achieved a broad consensus on what would work for the residents as well as for different collaborators involved.

A welcome green space in the Liberties

The opening of the park was a great success, and it has been busy ever since. The facilities made for skaters enjoy great popularity.

Areas specially designed for skaters are scant around the city centre. Often they are told to move on from paved areas where they congregate – or the authorities make physical changes to prevent skaters from using the infrastructure.

People skating at Weaver Park

“I think it has a nice welcoming atmosphere”, said Carla, a 21-year-old student, who has been skating in Weaver Park for over one year. “The best thing is the diversity – you can see skaters of all ages and backgrounds.”

What is very appreciated by the skating community is that it suits different levels of skating.

“Because it’s such a small skating bowl, you can learn basic tricks very easily,” says Neila, a 30-year-old IT consultant, who likes skating there in her leisure time.

“But also, when you get better in skating, Weaver Park still gives you the opportunity to learn new skills – I think that’s the main reason why it became so popular.”

Mostly skaters are going to Weaver Park because of the skating bowl, but also a lot of kids come there with their parents to enjoy the playground.

The integration between the skaters and the young children who wander over from the playground is worry for skaters, Carla says.

“When it’s a bit busier, it can be stressful because the park is not that big and there are kids running around,” she says.

Downside of Weaver Park

Diversity, sport and outdoor recreational opportunities for the local community – nevertheless, there is a downside to this spare time fun in Weaver Park. Since the opening there has been a problem with antisocial behaviour around and in the new park.

“In recent times I saw fights happening there and people throwing things at skaters and in the bowl – that makes the place a bit dodgy,” said Neila.

“Especially at night it can get a bit tense,” agrees Carla.

At the opening event for the park in 2017, former Lord Mayor Micheál MacDonncha issued a warning that it might come to antisocial behaviour in this area, but that it was up to locals to claim ownership over the space designed for them.

“Unfortunately, this area is prone to antisocial behaviour,” confirms district parks officer Donal O’Connor. “Since opening the park, we have had bouts of vandalism.”

To make people feel safer, there are CCTV cameras around the park and gardaí visit. Nevertheless, providing a 24/7 presence is impossible.

“At present we are constantly reviewing this area to see if we can increase footfall to prevent such antisocial behaviour,” says O’Connor.

“In my opinion this skatepark needs lighting,” says Neila. “During nighttime, or even in the evening in winter, it is completely dark there – I think that’s also a factor that plays a role for the antisocial behaviour happening there.”

Even though this kind of behaviour is nothing new around public spaces, it is important to look for a solution and do not let this ruin the welcoming atmosphere of the park.

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