May 11, 2018
Kumbia’s community is up-in-arms about a proposal to close the town’s only public children’s playground at Apex Park in Bell Street.
The removal of the park’s playground equipment and a “rationalisation” of the area is contained in a recommendation in the first draft of the South Burnett Regional Council’s new Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Strategic Plan.
The report says there is a conflict between the children’s playground and its associated free caravan stopover area, which provides overnight camping for motor homes and caravans.
It recommends Council liaise with Kumbia State School’s principal to “activate” the school’s facilities outside school hours instead.
It also recommends Council consider funding support to the school for upgrades to play or sport facilities available for community use, noting the school already has large open space play areas and a modern covered playground.
On Wednesday, Kumbia Party Line editor and former president of the Kumbia Progress Association Steph Stevens sent an open letter to South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell, all councillors and consultant Helen Carroll from Ross Consulting, who made the recommendations.
She also distributed the letter to the Kumbia Party Line’s email list and encouraged as many Kumbia residents as possible to fill in and submit a feedback form to the Council about the proposal.
Ms Stevens said many residents have a strong emotional attachment to the 50-year-old park, and in its present form it serves the town very well.
“There is a lot of Kumbia in Apex Park,” Ms Stevens wrote in her open letter.
“Norm and Rita Buchholz owned the two blocks the park sits on and Kumbia Apex bought it from them (Rita still lives in the district).
“The club had many brain-storming meetings and working bees to build the amenities block, the picnic shelters and the storage building, and built it under the supervision of one of their members who was a builder.
“They planted trees and established the caravan stopover and the playground.
“The original playground equipment was a slippery slide and a see-saw, which they relocated from a park near Kumbia’s Anglican Church.
“Kumbia Apex’s implementation of the free caravan stopover was so that visitors could leave their vans there and drive up to the Bunyas. A free stopover also meant more money would be spent in Kumbia.
“In the mid-1970s, Kumbia Apex gave the land and the fully functioning park they’d built to Kingaroy Shire Council.
“Much later, the Kumbia Progress Association (KPA) fundraised and got a grant to buy the current playground equipment.
“As well, KPA purchased two wheelchair-accessible picnic tables for Apex Park from the Council.”
Ms Stevens said many Kumbia residents had put in a lot of hard work and money to build Apex Park over many years.
“I question why there is any conflict between its use as both a children’s park and a motor home stopover,” Ms Stevens told southburnett.com.au.
“The children’s play area is fully fenced and secure.”
Ms Stevens said everyone she had spoken to was horrified a Brisbane consultancy firm could suggest such a drastic move without having knowledge of the district.
“The moves suggested will impact negatively on our small community.
“Our children and visitors’ children use this playground daily. It is the only public playground in Kumbia, and removing it would be an insufferable loss for our community.
“Kumbia residents will resist any move by Council to take away what was gifted to them in the first place, thanks to fundraising and hard work by Kumbia organisations.
“Our poorly resourced district deserves better.”