Centennial Park, Bathurst: Council to decide on park's future

FUTURE IS HERE: Centennial Park should be kept open and green, nearby residents Helen Simmons, Lisa Smiles, Joyette Fitzpatrick, Peter Simmons, Dion Moxon and (front) Vianne Tourle say. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 051418centenls
FUTURE IS HERE: Centennial Park should be kept open and green, nearby residents Helen Simmons, Lisa Smiles, Joyette Fitzpatrick, Peter Simmons, Dion Moxon and (front) Vianne Tourle say. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 051418centenls

BATHURST councillors are expected to decide the future of Centennial Park this week following years of debate.

Council engaged Integrated Design Group (IDG) last year to conduct public consultation and research to provide options for how the park could be used, and in March six options – ranging from a $62 million residential development to a $550,000 minor improvements – were announced.

In council’s online public survey that followed, just 107 people took part with 50 choosing option six which involves “minor improvements to the existing layout”.

A Director Engineering Services report to council stated it was clear from the consultation process that “development such as civic centres, museums, residential dwellings” were not wanted and should not be contemplated.

It recommended that a detailed design be undertaken utilising a mix of options one and six, and listed a number of priority improvements including: trees, barbecue, seating, shelters, playground, watering, sports, paths and park upgrade.

The Friends of Centennial Park (FoCP) group members have often told the Western Advocate that Bathurst had enough civic buildings and cafes and that the 10-acre park should remain open and green.

FoCP member Peter Simmons said option one included too many “hard paving” areas such as a car park, a pavillion and amenities block.

“There is absolutely no need for a car park,” he said.

It was also clear throughout the community engagement process that upgrade works that incorporated public or private development such as civic centres, museums, residential dwellings were not wanted and should not be contemplated.

Director Engineering Services report to council

He did however praise option one’s inclusion of disability access improvements.

FoCP member Lisa Smiles said she was pleased the report acknowledged that civic buildings and residential development were not wanted by the community.

The report said due to the significant size of the park that the proposed mix of option one and six would cost in excess of $1m.

Should councillors vote for the report’s recommendation, a detailed landscape plan for the park will then be sought which is expected to cost in the vicinity of $85,000.

The six scenarios, in full

Information from Bathurst Regional Council’s report

THE consultants have provided five detailed land use options for Council’s consideration, and briefly mentioned an additional “minor improvements option”.

The following concepts that have been provided are based upon the major desires that were expressed throughout the community consultation stage, these being to keep the park green, keep it open and make it useful.

Scenario #1 – Park for community and visitors to share

This scenario places emphasis on upgrading and improving the landscape of Centennial Park rather than the incorporation of community buildings or changing its existing land use.

In this scenario works would include improved entrance statements into the park, disability access improvements, formulation of off street parking, improvements to existing play equipment, additional inclusions such as off leash dog areas and fitness stations and incorporation of irrigated grassed areas.

It is also proposed to provide specific areas for teenagers as well as picnic shelters and associated infrastructure such as seating and BBQ facilities.

The cost of this option would be in the vicinity of $3.6m and it may be possible to stage the works over a number of years in order to spread the cost over a number of financial years.

Scenario #2 – Civic and amenity

This scenario incorporates the inclusion of some form of civic infrastructure into Centennial Park, in addition to providing landscape upgrade works.

This option would enable the site to remain primarily an urban park for public recreation, however also incorporate a formal civic purpose that would include the construction of appropriate public building infrastructure.

The civic function concept shown in the Scoping Study report identifies a library or art gallery, however this scenario can be applied for any civic community function use.

It is proposed that the incorporation of any proposed building be carefully integrated into the park to ensure minimal impact to the green and open theme of the park.

This can be achieved by careful design and the incorporation of landscape screening options.

The Scenario 3 concept plan shown in the Scoping Study Future Use Report demonstrates one such method in which this can be achieved.

The building has been cut into the existing slope with landscape treatments incorporated into the roof.

This option has been estimated to cost in the vicinity of $13.9m.

Scenario #3 – Green space by invested interest

This proposal involves the incorporation of commercial residential interest within the Park.

It is believed that the size of Centennial Park allows for building structures to be constructed without losing the openness and green parkland amenity of the site.

Residential development at this site would provide the capital to undertake an extensive high quality landscape upgrade of the Centennial Parkland, as well as ongoing maintenance funding.

This option has been estimated to cost in the vicinity of $62m.

Scenario #4 – Culture and leisure

This scenario explores the concept to design community and civic facilities that draws and engages people to the area and increases the use of the park for not only the local residential community but the wider Bathurst population.

This option Incorporates commercial interests such as cafe and multi-function spaces with civic facilities such as an art gallery etc.

As with all concept scenarios provided, careful design and construction principals would be incorporated to ensure that structures/buildings installed within Centennial Park blend into the surrounding parkland and that the open passive recreational park theme remains the dominant feature of the site.

This option has been estimated to cost in the vicinity of $17.4m.

Scenario #5 – Useful place 24/7

This scenario provides a concept that incorporates a mix of ideas and suggestions that were raised throughout the community consultation process, together with small scale residential development. Inclusions such as residential development, community gardens, arboretums and spaces for market gatherings and improved casual play spaces etc would provide increased passive security of the Centennial Park site and round the clock engagement of the area.

This option has been estimated to cost in the vicinity of $15.4m.

Scenario #6 –  Minor improvements to existing layout

There is another option that would be available to council and was briefly addressed within the Scoping Study, although not formally illustrated.

This option would deal with providing minor improvements only to the park, which is consistent with the keep it green, keep it open philosophy.

Overwhelming public feedback has identified that the park should not be left in its current state and a “do nothing” approach would not be acceptable.

Therefore within this improvement scenario, low scale works could be undertaken which provides for minor upgrade to some existing infrastructure without any change to overall layout of the park.

Proposed works would include installation of an irrigation system to improve grass cover, an upgrade to the playground, the incorporation of a barbecue and shade shelter/s, seating and additional tree planting to fill minor gaps.

The cost of this option would be minor in comparison to the other more substantial development options listed above and is estimated in the vicinity of $550,000, depending upon the number of shelters installed.