Council’s has a clear policy of allocating its active recreation open space areas to community-based sporting clubs, which cater predominantly for children. It is pleasing to observe other councils such as Marrickville Council and Randwick City Council are adopting similar policies, which are also being implemented by other councils. When you consider what I said at http://botanybaycitycouncil.blogspot.com/2010/02/sporting-clubs-more-than-sporting-clubs_14.html it is easy to appreciate the vital part our community-based sporting clubs play in our community.
In 2009 our policy has returned dividends to this City more tangibly. As well as using the facilities these community clubs also protect them, cooperate with the Council and prevent the overuse of the grounds. That has in one year saved thousands of dollars simply in not having to returf parks, such as Rowland, Booralee and Jellicoe Parks, as the community-based clubs policed and monitored their use and actively worked with Council ground staff.
Open space in this City, as is the case right throughout the eastern suburbs and the inner city, is at a premium. Everybody within the entire region demands access to open space for active recreation and they would constantly use almost every blade of grass if given the opportunity. To be able to maintain those facilities for community benefit there is only a limited amount of use that these open spaces can receive before they are irreparably damaged. Overuse that destroys grass covering, for example, will result not only in the cost of returfing but also the grass surface cannot recover until the following summer.
But there is another consideration that the Council must take into account in the use of its open space areas. On Sunday, as I was passing L’Estrange Park at Mascot, I noticed a father kicking a football around with his three children all of them looked like two and three and four years of age. As I looked around the park I saw other little children playing ball games and generally running around utilising that open space area.
On seeing that I then realised something I perhaps should have realised before, and that is, that the Council needs to ensure that its open space areas that are used for active recreation for organised sports should also be available to the community for recreation that is not organised. For example, the Council cannot lock up open parks for the entire day light hours during winter. The City’s parks are there for the City’s’ people.
As a result, Council has decided that the community based sporting clubs allocated our parks can only utilise that park for their own training purposes and for their home games in their competitions, and no other purpose. Council has done this to ensure that when the local community-based sporting club has exhausted its own use of the open space area then the open space area is available to the general public. The City’s Parks are for the City’s people.