THE Deakin Residents Association is taking matters into its own hands after the ACT government failed to support its proposal to help beautify Deakin’s La Trobe Park.
Describing the park as being in a state of decay, the association had applied to the ACT government’s “Adopt a Park” program to turn it around, but the application was rejected.
“We put out the hand saying we’d like to set up some collaboration with the ACT government,” says committee member and ANU professor, Dr George Wilson, 73, of Deakin.
“We thought it was a pretty strong application for the community to work with ACT Parks and Conservation.”
But, in the absence of government assistance, the association is now calling for experts and community members to help them rejuvenate the park, whether it be by sharing ideas or providing volunteer work.
“I don’t think that we can do the amount of work that we need to do on our own,” says another committee member, Pam Core.
Concerned about the park’s dying trees, lack of amenities, such as a permanently closed toilet, dangerous footpaths surrounding the park and lack of shade, the 69-year-old long-term Deakin resident says the park could be hugely improved.
“I came here 40-odd years ago and schools and families would use the oval but over time less people would come and trees started dying, grass started dying and the landscape has become rough and dry,” Pam says.
“The trees are looking sad and we really need shade. The park has gone down, down, down in terms of quality.
“It could be improved hugely. I’d like to see more seats, more shade, trees, and maybe even a little bike path for little children.”
Pam says that now more than ever, with Deakin targeted as an infill suburb, and all the current development, it means it’s even more necessary to fix the park and keep it maintained over time.
“The government’s not thinking ahead in terms of community usage. It would be wise to have some forward planning,” she says.
George, who has been a committee member of the association for about six years, says the park has been a constant interest for the association, and points out the irony of there being a Parks, Conservations and Land presence on the land of the park.
“Care and investment in the park would not only benefit residents nearby but it would also benefit the Scouts group [located in the park] and schools nearby,” he says.
For George, he would love to see the barbecue, which was taken away a few years ago, reinstated, he would like to see an irrigation system put in and he would also like to see community events being held at the park.
“We’d love to reinstate the barbecue. It just disappeared one day about three years ago,” he says.
“Before that, it wasn’t maintained for over a decade.
“We were also seeking funds to have a community event. We’d like to have a community event here once a year.”
George is also concerned about some of the dying trees in the park and believes they could become a public liability.
“There are a couple of trees that are dead and one in particular that is a danger to the Scouts,” he says.
“There were some trees planted years ago but they haven’t been looked after and they’re dying, too.
“You shouldn’t have to complain to protect the trees in your suburb. Deakin is one of the garden suburbs and yet the trees are dying – it’s crazy.
But the association stresses its desire to work collaboratively with the ACT government or any of its departments.
“It’s all been unilateral and there’s been no collaborating with the residents association or the residents,” George says.
Then there’s the issue of damaged and dangerous pavement around the area, especially a bit of raised concrete on the border of the park, which committee member Peter Boege says is of real concern.
“It’s a concern that something like that can go unremedied for so long,” says the 54-year-old.
“Someone walking at night, or jogging, could kill themselves.”