We just want our park

DANIELLE RETSAS is a Murdoch resident who lives near Bert Jeffery Park. Following our story last week about the outcry caused by plans to build an amenity/changeroom for a cricket club (“Residents hit for six,” Herald, October 17, 2020), she outlines what she’s discovered about her community’s connection to the park and how they’re being unfairly portrayed as anti-sport when they just want to keep their precious green space local. 

MY name is Danielle and I am a mother of two and a resident living in Murdoch.

I wanted to share my thoughts on the development of an amenities building at a park near my house that is due to commence soon. 

I have been living in this lovely suburb for 2.5 years.

I bought my forever family home for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons was the close proximity to a lovely, shady park. 

Me, my young children and my dog use the park on a daily basis. 

We often meet other locals there and have learnt through chatting to the local community the importance of the park to the community. 

The park enriches the community and the lives of our children in a significant way. 

I learnt from the Murdoch community after moving in that there has been a ‘battle’ going on with the council for the past four years in relation to the now very imminent plans to build an amenities building at the park. 

The purpose of the amenities building, which is costing rate payers half a million dollars, is to facilitate a space for the Applecross Cricket club to use for changing rooms etc. 

In the community’s attempt to contact the media about this previously it has been portrayed that we are against organised sports. 

I support organised sports and in fact love seeing a children’s soccer group playing at the park. 

What I am against is the large amount of money being spent for a cricket club not from the local community.

The Applecross Cricket Club have other venues. 

There have also been other suitable venues explored by the council. 

I am aware that a group called Friends of Bert Jeffery Park have been contacting the council for the past four years with a number of concerns. 

Despite this and petitions from residents, the voice of the community has simply not been heard. 

Money and power

It is very hard to fight against this when there are organisations such as the Applecross Cricket club (ACC) who have lots more money and power.

It is my understanding that in all of the grant applications etc put forward by the council and ACC that Bert Jeffery Park was selected for this development because the park was able to support a 68m boundary which was a requirement previously. 

Through investigations from the community it was discovered that the park can only accommodate a 60 metre boundary with no 20 metre safety buffer. 

Following communications from the community the council has since changed the boundary requirements to only 50-60m.

The council intends to build the amenities building right near the children’s playground. 

They are also planning on moving the children’s swing set to accommodate the building. 

I am not sure how they are planning on addressing the safety issue due to the park not meeting requirements but I worry that they will cage the playground or move it. 

I am not sure why the children’s playground needs to be impacted when the residents of Murdoch are clearly against the building to begin with.

If they do build, I would think it would be better for local park users if they built further away from existing children’s facilities.

It is my understanding that Bert Jeffery Park is the second-smallest active park in the City of Melville.

The community feels that ratepayers’ money could be better spent on building a multi use sporting hub at another venue that can be suitable for many different sports. There have been numerous other suitable venues considered by the city.

I genuinely appreciate you reading this and I hope that we can make some difference.

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