Photos by Matthew Dwyer
A Special electors’ meeting called to raise concerns about the Esplanade skate park has backfired on organisers, with a vote demanding the project be shelved failing 96 votes to 136.
The Esplanade youth plaza has already been approved by Fremantle council but that didn’t stop about 450 locals spilling into the town hall Tuesday night.
But—contrary to the hopes of the Fremantle Inner-City Residents’ Association—most supported the plaza being built on the Esplanade reserve.
Heritage advocate John Dowson, a leading critic of the site decision, dismissed the turn-out as “the Facebook/Twitter crowd” (see Herald letters, page 4).
The meeting also heard concerns about the council’s handling of an Arthur Head arts precinct (and its effective booting out of long-established artists) and the impact of taking on the expensive restoration of warders’ cottages in Henderson Street. But most were there for the skate park.
Eloise Dortch said the Esplanade was often jam-packed on weekends: “It’s hard to find a place to sit down on a summer’s weekend—it’s really loved and well used now. I would be extremely sad to see any of it lost.”
Clancy, who didn’t give his last name, laughed off claims from some the Esplanade was an “oasis”: “Central Park in New York is an oasis and delicate ecosystem,” he said. “Kings Park is a oasis and delicate ecosystem. The Esplanade is a bit of grass.”
Sixteen-year-old Ocean Trimboli wowed the crowd with her plea for support.
“Everyone will look at me and think I’m just a stereotypical teenager that wants a skate park,” the John Curtin College of the Arts student said. “By having it another location you are disregarding part of the community.
“And the places where skate parks are now are really dangerous. I was at Montreal Street by myself and I was approached by someone asking where I lived and where I went to school and I was thinking this wouldn’t happen at this one.
“People would be around and no-one would have the courage to come up to you and start asking you random questions.
“You go to the Esplanade now and there is just grass and a ferris wheel. A ferris wheel that was put there—it isn’t a landmark—it didn’t come with the park. So what’s the difference if a skate park was put there?”
Clapping and hollering followed her address.
Fremantle Society member Anna O’Sullivan stood up to say Ms Trimboli was the future of the port city. “I would love to see Ms Trimboli as a future councillor of Fremantle,” she said.
“You spoke brilliantly.”
But she then vented her spleen at mayor Brad Pettitt: “You have caused a rift in the community!” she railed. “The community should’ve been consulted.
“You will regret this and we will fight you to the death.”
by BRENDAN FOSTER