Skate park to move despite threats

Bayswater mayor Dan Bull with MPs Lisa Baker and Amber-Jade Sanderson celebrating calmer times when the Wotton Park skate park was given a stay of demolition. File photo.

‘We’ll sk8 up your place day and fkn nite’

BAYSWATER councillors have ignored threats and will relocate a skate and BMX park within Wotton Reserve instead of the Broun Park spot most skaters favoured.

BAYSWATER councillors have ignored threats and will relocate a skate and BMX park within Wotton Reserve instead of the Broun Park spot most skaters favoured.

The new Wotton site is further away from Tonkin Highway to make room for the Metronet train station development.

While most skaters favoured Broun Park, its neighbours feared the impact of skate noise and floodlights on their quiet, passive patch of green.

Back on Wotton, the Morley Windmills Soccer Club didn’t want the skaters any closer to their clubhouse either, fearing the club’s viability could be jeopardised if the skating area ate up parking and deterred potential members.

The decision to stick with Wotton came amid physical, electoral and legal threats to councillors urging them to vote Broun Park.

Cr Stephanie Gray, who moved the motion for the Wotton option, had told the February council meeting her son used to be a skate park user but was threatened by other users who discovered her role on council. 

Emotional

That was raised during public question time by skatepark user Daniel Ondracek, who queried whether Cr Gray might be biased in voting given what he described as an “emotional recount at February’s meeting regarding alleged threats to both herself and her family by parties unknown or identified by the councillor”.

Cr Gray responded: “They’re not alleged [threats], police have them, they’re in writing, so they’re not alleged. And I have sought advice on whether I have a conflict of interest in voting on this… no, I don’t.”

An anonymous letter was sent to councillors urging them to go for Broun Park, with the author saying they knew where councillors lived and threatening to “sk8 up your place if we have to day and fkn night”. 

And Cr Elli Petersen-Pik reported to last week’s council briefing that he’d received a concerning text from a Windmills committee member who didn’t want the skate park closer to them. 

“My name is Ali Bektic, I live in Maylands and have done for 30 years. I’m currently serving as a committee member for Morley Windmills Soccer Club for which I’ve played since 1980,” the text said.

“Since you are the councillor for my area I would like to strongly suggest that you follow your own council recommendation on tonight’s vote,” the text said, referring to the original staff recommendation to go with Broun Park.

“Failure to do so will result in a concerted effort from myself and my vast network to remove you from office at the next election.”

Windmills club president John Castrilli was at the briefing and Cr Petersen-Pik asked if he endorsed the text’s sentiment.

Mr Castrilli (who is not the former local government minister) said “he should have consulted us first as a committee”. He said members had their own opinions but “he wrote it on behalf of the committee, which he shouldn’t have done. 

On the day of the vote Mr Castrilli sent the council a letter threatening legal action over “a lack of due process to adequately inform decision making”, “an alleged disregard of extensive community engagement” and an allegation of “conduct unbecoming of councillors in offical proceedings and decision-making to deliver a predetermined outcome (apprehended bias)”.

Cr Lorna Clarke said “the debate, particularly online, has been really nasty, and there’s been a lot of misinformation. It’s actually been the most upsetting thing I’ve come across on council and I think we all need to take a deep breath and step back and think about that, how it’s gotten to that”.

She said the legal letter’s claims were incorrect and that they’d weighed up many factors in deciding on Wotton, including that the skate park was already at a nearby spot on Wotton, was close to a train station, and “to move it from where it is now has a huge impact on the public open space that exists in another park”.

“I would much prefer to have noise and lighting near near Tonkin Highway and a railway station and a soccer club that’s probably already got its lights on playing a game at night, than near a residential area.”

In favour of Wotton were councillors Dan Bull, Clark, Gray, Petersen-Pik, Sally Palmer and Barry McKenna, and a minority vote against Wotton came from Crs Catherine Ehrhardt, Steven Ostaszewskyj, Filomena Piffaretti and Michelle Sutherland.

The council will now draw up detailed concept plans. 

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