NEIGHBOURING residents fear they will be locked out of George Park under a $6.4 million upgrade being planned by Bathurst Regional Council.
The proposed five-stage upgrade would include a new amenities block to be built on George Park 1, the reconstruction of playing surfaces on both ovals with new drainage and irrigation, improved lighting and a sealed car park.
But the most contentious element has been a proposal to erect a $200,000 perimeter fence around the precinct which, according to the plans, would allow sporting clubs that use the grounds to “control access, [gain an] income stream through event management and [protect the] surrounding park grass and trees from vehicle compaction”.
The George Park master plan has now been placed on public exhibition to allow residents to have their say on the proposal, but only after a personal appeal to councillors by Professor David Goldney.
Professor Goldney said he was happy to see money spent on the facility but urged council to remember the residents living near George Park who use it as their local recreation area.
“I’m happy to see residents around George Park share it with the sporting clubs, but I’m not prepared to see the sporting groups stage a takeover,” he said.
“As part of that takeover they want to fence the perimeter. If it’s chain wire it will end up looking like a concentration camp.
“I’m sure there’s room for negotiation to reach a positive outcome but, at the moment, it seems to all be in favour of the sporting clubs.”
Professor Goldney said George Park was a popular exercise area for people living nearby.
“I exercise there every morning and there are always people exercising every day of the week and on the weekend,” he said.
“Instead of a fence I think it would be possible to put in bollards which would look quite reasonable.”
In preparing the George Park master plan, council invited a number of stakeholders to lodge written submissions, including the Bathurst Bushrangers and Bathurst Giants Australian rules clubs, Bathurst District Cricket Association, Central West AFL and Bathurst District Sports and Recreation Council.
However, few residents living near George Park knew about the plans before they were revealed in the Western Advocate two weeks ago.
Other proposed works include tiered seating in front of the George Park 2 clubhouse, steel picket fencing around each oval, repairs to the retaining wall between the two ovals and the installation of new playground equipment.
The master plan is now on public exhibition and residents have until 4pm on Monday, September 24 to lodge submissions.
To provide feedback, or to view the George Park master plan, go to yoursay.bathurst.nsw.gov.au.