By ALLISON HORE
Advocacy group Saving Moore Park have called the move to resume on-grass parking at Moore Park “extremely disappointing.”
Despite a commitment to end on-grass parking at Moore Park, the eastern part of the parklands was opened up for parking for the T20 cricket match between India and Australia.
When there are large concerts or sporting events at the nearby Allianz Stadium and SCG, temporary on-grass event day parking is sometimes facilitated to take parking pressure off the surrounding streets.
But Saving Moore Park don’t believe the on-grass parking was necessary for a major event with capacity limited by COVID-19 restrictions. While the SCG can hold 48,000 punters during ordinary operation, at the moment there is a cap of 23,000 people.
On the day of the T20 match, under 18,000 people were in attendance. Without opening up the grassed area for parking there were already 4,000 available parking spaces in the vicinity of the venue.
In a letter to planning minister Rob Stokes’s senior policy advisor, Michael Waterhouse from Saving Moore Park called the number of car parks available for the event, given the number of attendees, a “dramatic oversupply.”
He noted that on-grass parking didn’t take place during the recent rugby league games at the SCG which drew crowds of a similar size.
In September ministers from across the political spectrum signed an open letter calling for a commitment to ending on-grass parking at Moore Park. Signatories included Liberal councillor for the City of Sydney, Christine Forster, Alex Greenwich, Greens member for Newtown Jenny Leong, and Labor member for Coogee, Marjorie O’Neill.
City of Sydney Mayor Clover Moore echoed the concerns, telling the Sydney Morning Herald in August, “we need the NSW government to commit to end car parking on the grass at Moore Park and ensure its use for community sport, recreation and parkland.”
The state government’s Moore Park master plan, which was put together with extensive community consultation, aims to progressively remove on-grass parking at the site. But Mr. Waterhouse says the choice to resume on-grass parking at Moore Park is a sign Suellen Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the Western Sydney Parklands authority, has “reversed her commitment to removing car parking”.
“By putting cars before people, Suellen’s decision undermines the Government’s commitment to open spaces, green space, public space and its Parks for People program,” Mr. Waterhouse continued in the letter.
A series of photographs posted to Facebook by Saving Moore Park show the grass at Moore Park looking dry and patchy after the T20 match and the weekend’s heatwave.
“Moore Park is not a car park,” said Mr. Waterhouse.
“Adding insult to injury, whereas Moore Park East is visibly suffering from two car parking events at close to or at capacity and two days of extreme heat, this afternoon, the neighbouring rugby field, looking lush and feeling wonderfully soft underfoot.”
Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, recognised the work Saving Moore Park had put in advocating for the space in a parliamentary statement in November. He said he wanted to recognise the group’s “dedication to ensuring people in the Sydney electorate and surrounding areas have access to great parks.”
In a letter to his supporters in August Mr. Greenwich, warned of the resumption of parking on Moore Park when events returned to the SCG. He said he worries that the space being used for parking again would make it much more complicated to stop.
“Alarmingly, I have heard that the football codes and SCG Trust got the government to agree to resume Moore Park car parking once events return to the precinct,” he said.
“If event related car parking in Moore Park is reinstated after the pandemic, it will be difficult to remove it.”
The SCG’s website continues to list the on grass parking as an event day option with a fee of $30 per car.