Near miss warning

Back again, the “battleground” bike track on Art Wright Reserve. Photo by Steve Grant.

A RESIDENT living opposite a makeshift bike track in Melville says a nail-biting near miss between a 4WD and a youngster last weekend shows why the local council was right to flatten it.

The track on Art Wright Reserve, a green wedge between Stock Road and Coleman Crescent has become a “battleground” between local kids and the council, with each attempt to remove it followed by the construction of even more elaborate jumps and berms.

Melville council copped some social media flak from parents after the latest demolition; they said the council was acting like a nanny and stopping the kids from getting outside for some much-needed exercise after being locked up during the Covid-19 restrictions.

But resident Nigel Coleman has lived across the road from the reserve for 19 years and says last weekend’s near miss proved the council had made the right decision.

Blind

“The real issue is that the kids come out blind onto the street,” he said.

“This lady with a baby in the back of a 4WD had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting this kid, but he started going off at her and swearing.”

Mr Coleman said nearby parents helped hose the situation down, and it was something of a rarity, but he says it’s still an unacceptable risk.

“I am not against a bike track; I understand the kids need somewhere to mix and socialise, but unfortunately for me this is not the place.”

Mr Coleman said kids have also been trucking in loads of rubbish, including bricks and building material left over from a neighbour’s home renovation, which a tree was knocked down.

“They’ve brought in a big plastic ramp that the council took away, things like that, and every time they have to come down here, it’s a cost to the council and to the ratepayers,” Mr Coleman said.

He acknowledges that the noise from up to 30 kids across the road also adds to his aggravation, but he says that’s not helped by parents from different suburbs who just drop off their teen kids and pick them up later.

He says while they’re usually “great kids” with no fighting, the language is a bit much and their presence tends to push away the predominantly younger kids who do live nearby.

“Come down here and sit on my deck with 30 kids down there and see if that is an environment you would want to be around,” Mr Coleman said, adding the picturesque bush across the road was a “huge attraction” to originally buying his property.

Melville mayor George Gear said the council’s youth and environment officers hoped to meet parents and kids on-site next week to discuss alternatives, although some cruddy weather might mean a delay.

“We’d also like to tell the kids about an exciting project the city already has underway where we engage with young people through pop-up skate/BMX park events to help us understand their needs,” Mr Gear said.

“This will help us identify appropriate potential BMX track locations on the western side of the city.”

The Herald understands the city is already considering a site just off Leach Highway.

Mr Gear says he wants the kids to help design a future track.

“We recognise that young people need places where they can come together and we fully support them getting out of the house and being active and having fun.”

He said the council had already held pop-up events for BMX riders to identify the need for tracks which would be pursued through council and state funding.

By STEVE GRANT

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