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Upgrade to Borthwick Park will have to wait

posted 15 Jun 2017, 00:06 by Christel Mex
Unfortunately my motion to include the first stage of new concept designs for Borthwick Park in next year's budget was defeated. There is a large back-log of other projects on the books that are incomplete, and it was deemed that some of these should be finished before we embark on a new project.  My argument was since the work was to be outsourced anyway, there would not be too many staff resources involved and that we need to be 'grant-ready' when opportunities arise from the NRM Board and other bodies. Thanks to Councillors Wormald and Shepherdson who supported the motion. Here is what I said:

Motion:

That Council includes in the 2017-18 budget, the Concept Plan and associated community consultation, for the Borthwick Park Management Plan up to an allocation of $20,000

I understand that this proposal is $35,000 less than the $55,000 original funding submission, which means that the detail design and documentation would be considered in the 2018-19 budget after the consultation is completed.

 

Borthwick Park is a small reserve full of ancient redgums in the heart of Kensington and is a jewel in the crown of the Council area. Since 2010, local volunteer residents have been revegetating this park in partnership with Council staff. These native plantings won a Civic Awards Trust award in 2011 and a Mayor’s commendation under the Sustainable Garden Awards in 2016.

 

Second Creek runs through the park, and when young children arrive they head straight for the beach where tadpoles can still be found. Older residents of Norwood Cottage Homes on the other side of the fence, are also regular users of the park. There are recurring problems however. Urban infill, changed weather patterns and the 2016 removal of 50 huge rocks that used to slow down flows have led to damaging erosion over winter and stagnant mosquito-ridden pools in summer as well as smelly silt build-up. These problems cause constant maintenance issues of silt removal and repairs to the nearby trash rack. These problems will continue to be a drain on Council resources.

 

While the problems at the beach area are not in the same league as some of the other pressing infrastructure pressures facing Council, there is an opportunity here to place ourselves ready for the future for a relatively small expenditure. These funds would be used for the development of concepts using external consultants. The concepts would provide Council, residents and other stakeholders like Norwood Aged Cottage Homes with a vision for the future of this beach area.

 

The volunteer residents, who have planted, pruned, weeded and watered since 2010, have access to grants from time to time from a variety of sources including the NRM Board and federal grants. Having a Concept plan means two things.

1. Council will have clarity and a sustainable solution for the beach area in lieu of ongoing constant expensive repair and maintenance.

The residents and Council will be more ‘Grant ready’ and able to advance the project further when the time is right.

 

2. This proposal readies all parties for the creative and sustainable solutions that we value in our city. It may even provide for ‘nature play’ and ways of allowing easier access to our older city residents who live on Second Creek.

 

I understand that this project was not recommended for the current budget due to a backlog of council projects and the availability of staff resources. Reducing the scope acknowledges this, and at the same time keeps the project moving in small steps. The ongoing problem of erosion of Second Creek will not go away and will keep getting worse. Due to the importance of this park to the community, it is crucial to keep this project on the boil, if only in small steps.

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