Leichhardt Council approved the building of the Callan Park Skate Park last week, moving forward with elements of the park’s masterplan. But the state government continues to ignore the overall plan.
The skate park is one of the key items to come out of the plan that council approved in 2011.
Independent councillor John Stamolis said the skate park was an important amenity for young people and the wider community.
“It’s certainly very important that it was approved,” he said.
“It comes out of the master plan itself.”
Community consultation on the design of the skate park took place last year. EnLocus, the designers of the skate park have attempted to uphold the historical integrity of the site, through “referencing the cultural history of Callan Park” in its design.
Due to its uncertain future, Callan Park has been a source of contention for some time, but according to Clr Stamolis, the key to its future is to let the community know about the intricacies of the site. One way in which this is being done is through an exhibition organised by the Friends of Callan Park, “Conflict and Compassion in the Asylum”. The exhibition is part of the NSW Heritage Festival this year and tells the stories of Callan Park employees, nurses, local children and members from the Friends of Callan Park.
Leichhardt Mayor Rochelle Porteous said the fight for Callan Park shown in the exhibition is “worth celebrating and one that we are still fighting with the Callan Plan Masterplan still not implemented and the Callan Park and Broughton Hall trust still not established.”
Clr Stamolis said he believes the heritage exhibition is a positive step towards drawing this much needed attention towards Callan Park. He said investing money into “promotional activity about Callan Park” would be a good way to reach the broader community and inform them of the park as a community space available for use.
“In a more passive way, that is via flyers and banners. But I think some money should be invested into a more active way as well, and that is you might have a discovery day at Callan Park, like the ‘Discovery Day’ at the Bays Precinct, so [you would get] people coming in and out of Callan Park,” he said.
The Bays Precinct ‘Discovery Day’, organised by UrbanGrowth NSW opened up restricted areas to the public, with activities like cooking demonstrations running throughout the day. Although it drew criticism for being a band-aid solution to the community’s call for consultation, Clr Stamolis said people could learn a lot from this type of publicity.
While investment into publicity holds the potential to broaden the community use of the park, President of Friends of Callan Park, Hall Greenland believes that funding also needs to be directed towards the upkeep of the park over time to get the site “spick and span and up to standard”.
But Mr Greenland said he fears the government’s view is that parts of the park can be privatised so they are not seeing the park as a “valuable, in both heritage and social terms, public site that needs investment.”