SOUTH BEACH residents say Fremantle council has gone concrete-mad, with a proposal to build a basketball court on Wilson Park coming immediately after its skate park plans for the Esplanade reserve.
“This council will be remembered for closed shops and concrete parks,” local retired anaesthetist John Watson told the Herald.
He says the half-basketball court design also threatens “ambience, amenity and social harmony” as noise and possible anti-social behaviour problems will be closer to residents.
Referring to the hundreds of tonnes of concrete to be poured for the 2500sqm youth plaza on the Esplanade, he says the council should preserve the few green spaces left in the port city.
The plan for Wilson Park, currently a lawned expanse, covers about 210sqm and includes concrete paths linking the half-court to South Beach and South Terrace, near Douro Road.
Dr Watson and long-time local activist Bobby Wilson this week presented a petition to mayor Brad Pettitt with the signatures of more than 60 South Terrace residents opposed to the plan.
He was not receptive, they say.
Dr Pettitt told the Herald he would have preferred the half-court to be built on the other side of the railway tracks but, “a suitable spot could not be found”.
“Fremantle council had agreed many years back to replace the basketball courts lost with the extension of parking,” he says.
Ms Wilson says noise from the old court, 126m from residents, travelled to Hickory Street and “now they want to put a court 45m away”. Locals were given just 17 days to comment on a concept design. The council received 20 submissions, 10 of which were opposed.
Ms Wilson says bollards should be erected around the park to keep cars off, and the court moved across the tracks.
“Wilson Park has become a carpark in summer, not a park,” the petition states, lamenting the loss of a tranquil space that residents had enjoyed for more than a century.
Queen Victoria had vested Wilson Park in Fremantle city council in 1897, “solely for the purposes of recreation”.
Dr Watson says the concreting of Fremantle’s remaining parks is indicative of a council determined to force projects through against the wishes of electors.
“It has shown no awareness of the benefits of the open green space for the well-being of community members.”
by CARMELO AMALFI