Footy oval fury

• East Fremantle residents packed the town hall this week to oppose plans to sell the borders of the football oval for housing and an aged care village.

• East Fremantle residents packed the town hall this week to oppose plans to sell the borders of the football oval for housing and an aged care village.

You have been meeting with ministers behind our back—it’s outrageous!’

MORE than 180 East Fremantle residents packed the local town hall Monday night to oppose plans to redevelop the borders of East Fremantle Oval for housing.

At the end of the annual electors’ AGM—which had started 30 minutes late because locals kept streaming up the rickety stairs—just two residents voted to support the plan.

Former town mayor Jim O’Neill expressed fury with the council he’d once led for trying to remove the oval’s A-class reserve status in order to progress the development.

“You should be protecting our A-class reserve not trying to get rid of it!” he hollered at mayor Alan Ferris and shell-shocked councillors.

An attempt by East Fremantle Football Club board member David Edinger to inject levity fell flat.

His sledge to Mr O’Neill that he was “just worried about his views” had the former mayor turning red.

“You withdraw that remark!” he bellowed, gesturing wildly. “I want it noted, mayor!” he thundered. “He has blatantly attacked my character!”

Other locals were equally passionate in their opposition to the plans, which would see the Marmion Street frontage developed for houses, new club facilities, and the bowls club at the other end booted out for an aged care home.

“How can you even consider removing the A-class reserve for future generations!” Rebecca James cried, earning rapturous applause.

“Council is not listening to what residents want!” a woman shouted from the side of the room.

Mr Ferris’ attempts to respond were drowned out by heckling.

“You have been meeting with ministers behind our back—it’s outrageous!” protest leader Damien Flynn yelled out.

“I’d like to be heard,” Mr Ferris persisted. “I’m not trying to push anything.”

Club president Con Tripi told electors the club wanted to stay in the town.

“Why on earth would we want to move?” he said. “Why send it down the road?”

Jason Langford said he would love his two-year-old son to play for the Sharks.

“No money has been spent on the club by council for a long time,” he said.

“It has been poorly managed by council and I think you need to take a look at yourselves.”

Bruce Winfield, the lone voice on council’s side, said something had to be done to improve the ageing oval infrastructure.

“Everybody is screaming about consultation and maybe I read a document differently, but aren’t we not throwing it out for consultation now,” he said.

“We need to start thinking sensibly, because we can’t retain that site as an A-class reserve, because it’s looking sad.”

Ian Handcock, another former mayor, said he supported the stunned councillors, “sitting there like crows on a barb wired fence”.

“Councillors don’t usually speak at AGMs,” he noted, before adding the AGM was one of the best-attended he could remember.

“Once an A-class reserve is gone we will not see it again, just like the trotting.”

Near the end of the long meeting—by which time some had drifted out the doors—Mr O’Neill moved that the AGM demand the council immediately halt any work on plans to sell part of the precinct. It passed 136–2.

by BRENDAN FOSTER

3 responses to “Footy oval fury

  1. I would invite All ratepayers in East Fremantle to view the proposal to redevelop the sporting precinct as shown on council website. This area is in need of refurbishment and many unused sections are now an eyesore. The proposal would renew existing buildings and extend public open space and make the area more user friendly as well as providing small retail and old age care facilities on land that is currently not used. This is a small price to pay for such a progressive development and improvement to facilities used by thousands now and many more in the future. Let us hope that those who oppose it for their own gain read this proposal and contribute more than negative input.

  2. Having been working in the area recently and driving past the proposed area for redevelopment I cannot see what residents are complaining about. An empty carpark, a muddy hill, a tin fence and some peppermint trees isn’t really something worth fighting over and hardly worthy of A-class reserve status.

    • The area surrounding the oval is in dire need of an upgrade and is a real eyesore but it seems some locals want to have it for their own use and even get rid of the football club that has been there for 60 years. The council has spent little to upgrade the area in the last fifteen years and degradation of facilities continue.

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