HHT responds to Councillor Zac Miles’ unfounded fears

BP concept designDraft Plan of Management for Boronia Park

The Weekly Times has published HHT Executive member, Alister Sharp’s response to Zac Miles’ recent article that criticised the Draft Plan of Management for Boronia Park and raised all sorts of unfounded anxieties in the community. You can read Alister’s letter below or link here: The Weekly Times.

You can check the draft Plan for yourself:  Plan of Management for Boronia Park.

Trust reply to Clr Zac Miles
Dear Sir,
In his ‘To The Point’ article (TWT 3-3-2015), Hunters Hill Councillor Zac Miles criticised his Council’s Draft Plan of Management for Boronia Park.

This was a surprise because the Draft Plan was prepared by an experienced, independent consultant selected by public tender.

As required by Council’s Brief, the consultants began by collecting the opinions of all stakeholders, including a meeting with Councillors.

The Hunters Hill Trust supports the Draft Plan, and believes that a number of the statements made in Clr Miles’ article are wrong and/or misleading, as explained below.

Clr Miles complains of ‘a concerted effort by a vocal minority group in the community to restrict the main active and passive recreational uses of the park in favour of low-use conservation’.

Various community groups, including the Rugby and Cricket Clubs (with whom Clr Miles appears to be associated), have circulated their views during the period of public exhibition, but none is suggesting to restrict recreational use of the park in favour of conservation. Indeed, the Draft Plan proposes spending $1.5 million to improve facilities for organised sport.

Clr Miles is concerned that the Draft Plan includes ‘a number of proposals which would add no value to the patrons of the park ‘, and seeks a carpark within the Park.

Although three quarters of the Park is not used for sporting purposes, the Draft Plan proposes 60 percent of the proposed expenditure is directly in support of organised sport. This includes an amenity block near Oval Nr3, and refurbishment of the pavilion/grandstand, ‘including provision of a meeting room for rugby club’.

In truth, there is no need to allow cars to enter the park when there is room in Park Road and High Street to park over 200 cars at weekends, and allowing cars to drive within the park would be hazardous to pedestrians.

Clr Mile’s need not be concerned about access for emergency vehicles, or for the disabled. The Draft Plan provides for Princes Street to be available to maintenance and emergency vehicles, and disabled access is not specified in Council’s Plans of Management because it is covered by other Council policies.

It is true, as Clr Miles states, that the rugby and crickets clubs have funded improvements at Boronia Park over the years, by means of government grants and by their own fund-raising.

But most costs are borne by Council, including watering and mowing the turf, and maintaining the cricket pitches (metered mains water for the ovals alone cost over $20,000 last year).

The lights installed by the clubs on Ovals Nr1 and Nr2 were offensive to neighbours because of light ‘spill’, and those on Oval Nr1 have now been replaced at Council’s cost. The cricket shed and nets may benefit club members, but are not available to the general public, in spite of sitting on public land.

In response to the clubs’ request to upgrade Oval Nr3 in 2011, Council gave control of the project to the Rugby Club. The project was so poorly managed that Oval Nr3 was out of use for 3 years, and the project is still incomplete; the oval doesn’t drain properly after prolonged rain, and Council is having to remediate the embankments to prevent erosion.

To sum up, The Draft Plan does not propose to destroy existing infrastructure, or to reduce access to facilities.

It proposes capital expenditure of over $2.5 million, 60 percent of which will be in support of club sport.

It implies that Council will continue to pay for maintenance of the park. The Draft Plan provides a good basis for managing Boronia Park into the future.

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