Children’s park to car park

Tony contemplates the loss of Debney's Park

Tony contemplates the loss of Debney’s Park

Three years ago, an asphalt wasteland in Flemington was transformed into an adventure playground with a flying fox and ropes course.  If the East West Link is built, the playground will go and may be replaced with a car park.

Tony lives a kilometre away in Ascot Vale and brings his two children to Debney’s Park because it is “arguably the best playground in Moonee Valley”.

“This only opened three years ago.  [Losing] it seems to be a terrible waste,” he said.

His son attends the Ascot Vale Special School and is brought on school excursions to the adventure playground – a safe and creative zone where children with special needs can gain confidence.

Jenny lives in Oak Park and drives to the park so her two children can play on the ropes, slides and unusual climbing and skating areas.

The playground is the backyard for hundreds of children living in Flemington public housing high-rise.

Mothers from refugee backgrounds, mainly Eastern African, sit along the verge of the soft-fall hills with babies in prams watching older children play.

Children from Flemington enjoy a multi-cultural playing field.

A section of CityLink already runs to the east of the playground – suspended in the air like a sky-borne slug.

The new East West Link will run alongside the existing CityLink above the playground.

Linking Melbourne Authority confirmed at an information session held in Flemington on Saturday that the playground would be “reconfigured” as a result of the $8 billion toll way.

Asked whether children would have access to the same play equipment after the road has been built, a Linking Melbourne Authority consultant couldn’t say.

“That has not been resolved,” he said.  “We are trying to look at what we can use the land under the freeway for.”

Another consultant pointed to performance requirement in the Impact Statement that the project minimize its impact on open space and parkland.

She confirmed that there is no legislative requirement to replace the playground, but the construction team will have to “minimize disruption” and look for “opportunities to redevelop and reinstate” open space.

One proposal is that the playground be replaced with a car park and rebuilt in another area of the park.  Other suggestions include a rock-climbing wall, extended wetlands or other recreational areas.

The playground was built at a cost of $2.2 million and benefited from a federal grant of $1.5 million prior to the 2010 federal election.

Maps of the toll way project design show the new road running above three quarters of the contiguous playground.

Debney's Park






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