FREMANTLE council has been forced to begrudgingly accept the return of a significantly browner Pioneer Park from what was taken over by the McGowan government last year.
A collapsed bore has become the latest issue at the park, turning the entranceway to Fremantle from the railway station into a crispy brown field as authorities wrestle over who’s responsible.
The state took control of the park at the height of the Tent City crisis early last year, when unofficial charity Freo Street Kitchen set up a soup kitchen to help people living homeless get through the holiday period.
It quickly expanded to 75 tents housing over 100 residents, prompting the state to take back the park so it could order police in to clear the site.
Fourteen months later it’s planning to hand the park back to the council, but with the broken bore which will cost up to $225,000 to fix.
The council asked the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage to chip in for the repairs, as well as the Public Transport Authority which taps into the bore to water around the train station, but both said no.
There were mixed views from councillors at the Wednesday’s council meeting, including city warder Adin Lang who said the city was getting “a really raw deal”.
Cr Jenny Archibald said the bore pump was 50 years old, so the state couldn’t be blamed for it breaking down, while CEO Glen Dougall revealed that the city had been looking after the park’s maintenance even though control had been with the DPLH.
Fremantle Society president John Dowson says the authorities’ handling of the park is “totally reprehensible”.
Mr Dowson says Pioneer Park deserves more attention from both parties, as it holds significant cultural and historical value dating back to the city’s colonial era.
“The park is suffering because they keep handballing the responsibility,” he said.
“We know the state government has the resources, but the council don’t seem to be showing interest in the park at all.
“The significance of the park is much bigger than a patch of grass, and it’s much bigger than Tent City.
“That’s why it’s called Pioneer Park. It’s a memorial to the people who built this city.” In the end the council voted to accept back the park’s management, but they will have one more crack at convincing the state to help fix the bore before adding to the upcoming budget discussions.
by KATHERINE KRAAYVANGER