What large open space is going to waste?

TUCKED away in the back streets of Naracoorte, a large tract of open space known as McTernan Park is going to waste.

Named after Tidy Towns stalwart Gwladys McTernan, the 4835 sq m park is an ideal size for a recreational area, is dotted with some magnificent old gum trees and features modern playground equipment, park benches, cricket nets and a basketball court.

But only the closest neighbours of the asset in Naracoorte's north-east - between Thompson St and Harding Crt - know about it, and very few of them use it.

That's because it has no permanent watering system - and would be too expensive for Naracoorte Lucindale Council to maintain for the amount of use it gets - the ground at the park is cracked and dry and garden beds are overgrown with weeds. In short, it looks unloved.

Now, the council wants to do something about it.

It is asking people to have input into the park's future and comment on a proposal to decrease the size of the park by selling some of the land off for residential development.

Funds raised from the sale of the land would be available to invest back into the remaining park area.

Mayor Erika Vickery said council records showed the park serviced 107 households and there was evidence it was still used by some neighbouring residents, but the council felt it could be made much more attractive and useful for the community.

When it was established about 15 years ago, Mrs Vickery said garden beds and other parts of the park were maintained by members of the Naracoorte Tidy Towns committee driven by Mrs McTernan.

But now that group had disbanded and there was no one to do that work, which had contributed to waning interest in the park.

"The park has had some minor upgrades, however recently sections of the park have fallen into disrepair," Mrs Vickery said.

"Equipment and facilities at the park now need to be either removed or renewed to bring the park up to standard.

"Before doing this the strategic direction for the park needs to be considered.

"We are seeking community input as it's important to council that community open spaces fit with the aspirations of the community.

"This involves determining the appropriate size of the park and planning to support the aspirations of the community while also meeting the service levels identified in the open space strategy."

Mrs Vickery said the council wanted as many users of the park and members of the wider community to return consultation forms so a clearer picture could be formed on the usefulness of the park.

"It could be that even the neighbours don't want to retain the park," she said. "If people don't comment, we won't know."

One local well qualified to comment is Jean Ridley, a former member of the Tidy Towns committee who also lives directly opposite the park.

She said the original concept of the park was sound and it was well maintained for a time by the Tidy Towns committee, but now that no longer happened something had to be done.

"It's just terrible to look out my front window now," she said. "It's such a shame because it could be so nice."

It's just terrible to look out my front window now. It's such a shame because it could be so nice. - Local resident Jean Ridley.

Mrs Ridley said she rarely saw anyone using the park, although quite a few young people used the basketball half court despite its decaying state.

"I've often said to them they should approach the council and ask them to fix (the court) up," she said.

"It would be good to see something happen there."

To comment on the future of the park, visit the council website before the deadline of April 4.

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