May 1, 2018
Reaction to the South Burnett Regional Council’s draft Sport and Recreation Plan was swift on social media on Tuesday.
The draft plan, unveiled by Council on Monday evening, includes plans to “rationalise” a number of parks and other facilities throughout the region in a bid to save money.
Included were proposals to remove playground equipment in Kumbia and Benarkin, shift the Kingaroy Youth Park to Rotary Park and close the public toilets in Hivesville.
“The Hivesville Hall was purchased for private use in early 2017 and it is recommended that the sports ground and public toilet are considered for rationalisation by Council due to limited to no use,” the consultants wrote.
They also recommended that Council “investigate the feasibility of a community bus to transport residents to larger towns to access sport, recreation, swimming pools and other services (eg. health).”
At Kumbia, the consultants recommended that the playground equipment be removed from Apex Park and to instead “liaise with the local principal to ‘activate’ (outside school hours) the opportunities available at the school for local residents”.
The Kumbia proposals met with immediate anger on Facebook:
“Many people comment on how lovely the park is in Kumbia beside the free van park. The kids have nothing in Kumbia to do and you want to take away their only playground? Kumbia folks don’t have access to even the rail trail for a safe place for kids to ride bikes. I’m so angry about this.”
“Wow how low can they get. They have just spent the money on putting soft fall and a fence. For it to be ripped out. Kids use the park regularly. Hope they are prepared for these small communities to fight back.”
“So they say kids need more exercise they need to get out n play more. How can they do this when you take away the one thing they have to play on. This is a disgusting move by the council.”
“Kumbia’s Park needs to stay!!! It is very well loved and used by the local children as well as visiting children. Many birthday parties are also held here! I can’t believe that council are even contemplating this??”
“I for one will chain myself to the fences before they take anything from our town…”
At Benarkin, the consultants also recommended the removal of playground equipment from First Settlers Park to be followed by liaison with the school for after-hours use. Benarkin residents weren’t happy, either:
“Why take away what little the kids in Benarkin have, Council does nothing for Benarkin! So BUGGER OFF & leave our park alone!”
” There’s not a lot for kids at Benarkin as it is, what is the reason apart from seeing dollars going into the council coffers?”
Several commenters suggested there could be an economic impact, too, with fewer travellers stopping to stretch their legs and buy something to eat at the local shop while their children played on the equipment.
Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff urged angry residents to provide feedback to the consultants and to Council.
“I agree with all of your comments. I do not support the Plan. It needs to be changed. Please contact Helen Carroll from Ross Planning on 0427-355-101 or email [email protected] and ask to fill in a feedback form. The Plan is available at the Council libraries and offices. Have a look at the back from Page 46 to 85 and check out your community. The feedback opportunity closes on May 25th.”
Cr Ros Heit agreed:
“I am totally against the proposals for Kumbia (and most of the small communities in my Division). suggested by the external ‘consultant’. I will be drafting a suggested plan of action for Kumbiaites this afternoon and emailing around. I am totally with you fighting this.”
Cr Heit told southburnett.com.au she was also particularly annoyed with the proposal to “rationalise” the Hivesville toilets.
“These were built less than two years ago for $70,000. Half paid by the community and half by Council … and (the consultant) wants to rationalise them!” Cr Heit said.
Concerns have also been expressed over the proposed relocation of the Kingaroy Youth Park.
Kingaroy Rotary Club member Ray Pitt commented that the club had had held discussions with Council several months ago over the installation of disability play equipment in the park as well as a possible future sensory garden for the sight-impaired and children with ADHD problems.
“At that meeting they were happy for our project to proceed given that it was to be funded by Rotary,” he wrote.
“We believe the two activities are not compatible when a peaceful and quiet atmosphere is aimed for.
“A skate park will take up a big area of the existing park and leave very little for expansion for the purposes of including the less-fortunate sector of our community in community activities in the South Burnett.”
southburnett.com.au also understands that the land on which the Youth Park is located is leased to Council by the Peanut Company of Australia, which means Council could not sell the block even if it was “rationalised”.