Our say | One chance to get it right for park’s future

BATHURST’S feuding councillors have the chance to put their differences aside on Wednesday night to achieve something great for the community.

It remains to be seen if the divisions within the chamber that boiled over into open warfare at a working party meeting last week will be on display for the public to see on Wednesday, but this meeting could go a long way to deciding the current council’s legacy.

One of the items on the agenda is the future of Centennial Park and it is crucial that councillors get it right.

Five options have been presented to the community following a community consultation process facilitated by Bathurst consultants Integrated Design Group, ranging from a fairly modest $3.6 million upgrade of park facilities through to a $62 million commercial and residential redevelopment of the site.

A sixth option that wasn’t canvassed by IDG but was included for discussion at the request of the Friends of Centennial Park group was a bargain basement “less is more” upgrade that would adhere to the “keep it green” philosophy with only improved irrigation systems, an updated dated playground and barbecue area, and some additional trees and seating.

A report to councillors found the bargain basement option received the most support from residents who responded to a council survey, while respondents were unanimously opposed to the idea of new civic, residential or commercial buildings on the park.

So councillors have some very clear guidelines in making their decision for the park’s future but run the risk of doing too little. It would be a shame after all the years of planning for the community to be left underwhelmed by the result.

Councillors would not dare ignore the “keep it green” philosophy that has come through so strongly but nor should we pass up the chance to develop Centennial Park into an asset for our future.

Surely building some structures on the park would not be so bad if those structures were purely recreational facilities.

Why not build something for the teens or fitness stations for the whole community?

Residents do not want to see any new buildings but it would be a shame to see that translate into nothing new at all.

Councillors have one chance to get Centennial Park right. Surely we can do better than a few new hoses.