Years of hard work finally pays off for Broke teenager

Following extensive community input, including from local schoolchildren, the much longed-for Broke Skate Park is now officially a reality.

 Mayor of Singleton Cr Sue Moore, Ralph Northey from Bulga Coal, Warren Taggart who performed the Welcome to Country for the event, and Teegan Hayward from Bulga Coal at the opening of Broke Skate Park.

Mayor of Singleton Cr Sue Moore, Ralph Northey from Bulga Coal, Warren Taggart who performed the Welcome to Country for the event, and Teegan Hayward from Bulga Coal at the opening of Broke Skate Park.

For Broke boy Jack O'Toole, the end of this project has been a long time coming after years of advocating for the communal park.

"I grew up in Broke as a kid and spent most afternoons and weekends with other local kids riding our BMX bikes around McNamara Park," said the now twenty-four-year-old.

"Many of us country kids spent years building and carving out ramps and jumps in the dirt and rubble of the park, which soon enough attracted riders of all ages and experience levels to the 'hand built' park.

"It became a real community where older kids would look out for younger kids and help increase their skills, it wasn't a stereotypical spot for kids to get up to no good," he added.

After months of hard work, Jack and his friends headed down to the park after school one afternoon to discover that the much-loved park had been bulldozed and flattened down.

2012: The hand made jumps in McNamara Park, Broke made by the local kids as a BMX track before they were flattened down.

2012: The hand made jumps in McNamara Park, Broke made by the local kids as a BMX track before they were flattened down.

"To our disbelief, years of hard work and memories were gone. We tried to rebuild the park many times but it was never the same.

Annoyed and upset, the Broke and Bulga BMX community kids went searching for answers and managed to stumble across Ralph Northey from Bulga Coal.

"After trying to voice our ideas to council and starting petitions around the High School, I ended up at a community meeting in Broke Hall and patiently waited until the end of the meeting to project the idea of a community skate park.

"I met Glencore's Environment & Community Manager Ralph Northey and thanks to him and Glencore, eight years on we now have this awesome community asset."

The $506,300 project was funded by $310,000 under the Bulga Coal Voluntary Planning Agreement and $196,300 from the Federal Government's Community Sports Infrastructure grant program, in response to calls from the community for a skate park in the village.

The project also included a new barbecue, picnic tables and shelter.

While there was a pause in construction because of COVID-19 restrictions that impacted Queensland-based contractor Trinity Skateparks, local skateboarders were the first to test out the facility in Stewart McTaggart Park on Saturday after it was opened by Mayor of Singleton, Cr Sue Moore.

Cr Moore said the state-of-the-art recreation and youth space was a real community project that began with the drive and energy of Broke teenager Jack O'Toole nine years ago.

"While that teenager is now in his 20s, I hope he can enjoy the rewards of his hard work and enthusiasm when he sees people using the space," she said.

"It's been great to see our young people get involved in the workshop and drop-in sessions during the design phase for the park and we can now see the results of their input not only through the inclusions for beginner and intermediate level skaters, but in the reflection of the surrounding natural materials and heritage of the area.

"This project really is a demonstration of what can happen when the community works together and I acknowledge Bulga Coal and the Federal Government for getting involved to help Council to make it happen."

The skate park incorporates street and plaza style elements in a modern facility accommodating beginner and intermediate levels for skateboarding, roller skating, scooters and BMX.

"Singleton has become a destination for playtime over the past couple of years with the delivery of a number of high quality playgrounds, including the latest at nearby Bulga," Cr Moore said.

"I know the Broke Skate Park will be a destination for locals and visitors alike, and adds to the amazing stock of recreational facilities we have for all ages right across our local government area."