ARANMORE Catholic Primary School fears kids will be left with a dire shortage of playspace if Vincent council sells off a playground neighbouring the Leederville school.
ACPS principal Jonnine Lamborne told this week’s council meeting “the school would be losing a well-utilised area that means a lot to our community”.
She said the playground is “precious … for students who use it daily and to families who regularly gather there for school play and catchups”.
Due to a strange historical land swap Vincent council owns the little island of public open space tucked down an alleyway off Brentham Street. Because it can’t be seen from the road it’s mostly used by Aranmore kids at recess and after school.
Vincent council’s been considering rezoning and selling off the land for housing; if sold to a private developer the playground could be levelled for up to three storeys of apartments.
The nearby surrounds has plenty of parkland courtesy of Brentham Street Reserve so the council’s plan is to use the sale proceeds to buy property in a suburb in more need of open space, but as of this week there was no solid plan about what to buy so it’d just go into a holding fund.
Ms Lamborne called out the council’s uncertainty, saying “at the moment we observe Peter is being robbed to pay Paul, except Paul doesn’t really know his purpose”.
The school doesn’t have funds to buy the land and its first preference is for no sale. If a sale does go ahead, its second best option is that it stays open for community recreation.
For now, the council’s moving ahead with the rezoning which will be a lengthy process. In the meanwhile the council has asked Vincent staff to come up with some solid options for where the proceeds would be spent with an aim to get an equivalent of the 1700sqm being sold. They’re also flagging spending up to $299,000 of the sale proceeds on a new playground close to the school on Brentham Street Reserve, the other bit of parkland the school abuts.
Ms Lamborne said “the school community would be most pleased with this”, if significant landscaping was undertaken to clear site lines and have the playground close to the school.
She said those measures would “deter loiterers, voyeurs, and opportunists, as well as [allow] easy access for the staff and students. Closer access is essential for safety and in the event of an emergency”.