Our say | Make it a place to play, not a place to build

THIS newspaper wrote back in January that while a scoping study for future uses for Centennial Park might be needed to tick all the boxes on some administrative form, it was unlikely to yield an outcome better than the one already proposed by the community.

We wrote that because there was already precious little green space in the centre of Bathurst, the community must be very careful to protect what remains.

Sadly, it appears increasingly unlikely that such a warning has been heeded by Bathurst Regional Council.

The Friends of Centennial Park is a vocal, active group fighting hard to preserve and enhance their own slice of green near the Bathurst CBD.

But to look at the park today, you could hardly blame group members for feeling a little ignored over the years.

What could be a sparkling oasis instead stands as a dry, tired looking expanse of ground desperately waiting for a little love.

So when council called for a scoping study into possible future uses of the park, it was also understandable that the group got just a little concerned.

Surely no scoping study was needed to tell council that some play equipment, regular watering and a new amenities block would do wonders?

Still, they kept their hopes up that they were reading more into the process than was necessary.

But now the scoping study contract has been awarded to a local architecture firm, the Friends of Centennial Park are really concerned.

While conscious of the need to keep all stakeholders on side, group members have every reason to ask why an architect needs to be involved in the process before the need for any new buildings has been established.

Unless, of course, the need for buildings has been established and the local community has been locked out of those discussions.

A new cultural and community centre was one mooted option for Centennial Park but it would be a shame to see such valuable green space turned over to such a development.

As Bathurst grows we will see more people wanting to live near the centre of town on smaller and smaller blocks, making the need for park areas greater than ever.

Centennial Park should be left as a place for the community to play, not a place for developers to build.