Green space grapple
UNDER-USED parks on the southside of Cairns have been earmarked for new tenants under a council plan that has residents in the area worried about the security of their local green spaces.Cairns Regional Council has identified at least six parks in the southern suburbs that could be put to better use if a sporting or not-for-profit group could call it their home base and contribute to the mowing and maintenance costs that ratepayers currently shoulder.
But residents are worried by the plans being considered for another southside facility, Down Park at Edmonton, which could be divided into two portions, with one potentially sold off to a commercial enterprise or a residential developer.
"A lot of locals use the park to walk the dog and throw the frisbee; it's the only park we have in east Edmonton," resident and former Division 2 councillor Nancy Lanskey said.
"People don't want to lose their green space."
She said a park should not be considered under-used just because a sports group or community organisation wasn't based at it.
"Everyone's entitled to green space. Liveability and amenity are very important for quality of life. It's what living in North Queensland is all about," she said.
Residents in that area will form a grassroots association to oppose any plan to sell a portion of Down Park for housing.
Current Division 2 councillor John Schilling insists nothing will be done at Down Park, or any of the southern parks, without first consulting the local community.
He said there was a long waiting list of community groups looking for council-owned land to call home in the southern suburbs, so it made sense to take stock of the local parks and put them to better use.
"We've been mowing some of these parks for 30 years and they just don't get used," he said.
"Wouldn't we be better to ask the community to get involved and take ownership? The more community groups we have using parks, the less graffiti we'll have and the more activated those spaces will be."
He cited a swampy and narrow 1.1ha block at White Rock that the council currently looks after, which could instead house a local group such as a Men's Shed or Scouts' den.
Cr Schilling said while the council was making plans for existing parks, it was also buying new blocks of land south of Cairns to turn into recreational spaces.
The council voted earlier this month to seek applications from local not-for-profit groups for the six parks identified, but Division 3 councillor Rob Pyne opposed the plan because of the proposal for the seventh site, Down Park.
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Fighting fit: Zachary Ringer makes good use of parkland which local residents fear council is trying to grab. Picture: BRENDAN FRANCIS