The Davies Park Upgrade Project has been in the works for a couple of years now.
It started because I was advocating for more green space around West End.
Instead of actually buying more land for new green spaces, the LNP decided to put a few million dollars into improving Davies Park (which wasn't quite the same, but is still a lot better than nothing).
I topped that up with a few hundred thousand dollars from my local parks budget so that the project would include a full-size basketball court and a small skate facility.
A crucial part of the project is improving drainage. This whole area of West End used to be very swampy, and water naturally pools around various parts of the park, including the sections of the ring road that get very muddy and eroded.
But what BCC didn't tell residents at any stage of the consultation process was that they were planning to run the underground drainage pipe right through the middle of Jane St Community Garden. It seems the Liberals made a decision that they wouldn't tell the public about this until the last minute.
This diagram shows the alignment of the proposed drain. The BCC wasn't going to release this document publicly. My office had to go through a formal Request for Information process to get hold of it.
Just this week, BCC have told Jane St Community Garden that they intend to start construction this November!
Digging a trench for the drainage pipe is going to involve closing off and digging up a significant chunk of the garden and excavating a lot of soil.
Thousands of volunteer hours have gone into creating and caring for this garden space, and it's not yet clear how council intends to compensate the community for this. If you put a dollar value on all the work that's gone into the garden, it would be pretty huge.
What frustrates me is the lack of openness and transparency from council. Instead of keeping the community in the loop and explaining why this is the only option, the council has tried to keep it a secret until after the construction tender was allocated and work is about to start.
If digging up the garden really is the only option, council should at least explain publicly why other options weren't feasible.
These are the questions I've asked the LNP to answer...
- Approximately how much does the drainage component of the project cost based on the current alignment through the garden?
- Approximately how much would it cost to instead run drainage through the football field and out to Jane St via the ring road driveway?
- Approximately how much would it cost to deepen the drain on Montague Rd and run drainage directly to Montague as opposed to out to Jane St? (Council said this wasn't feasible because Montague Rd is higher than the lowest parts of Davies Park)
- Why isn’t it possible to design a drainage system involving on-site retention via natural pools/mini-wetland and dry creek beds as opposed to large underground concrete pipes? How much would this cost?
If you want to support Jane Street Community Garden, the best thing you can do at this stage is to email the Lord Mayor at email@example.com and ask him to publish detailed answers to the above questions on the council website.
To proceed, this project also needs environmental sign-off from the State Government because it's on contaminated land.
I don't want to hold up the entire Davies Park Upgrade. I'm still open to being convinced that this drainage tunnel alignment is the only feasible option, but if I'm going to support the project, I want answers to the above questions.
Maybe instead of spending huge amounts of money on a concrete tunnel to carry rainwater straight out to the river, we could turn a small part of Davies Park into a more natural stormwater retention basin, and drain water into a series of shallow ponds which the community garden could use for irrigation...
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