The chief executive of the NSW government’s Greater Sydney Parklands Trust has thrown her support behind a controversial new skate park in Leichhardt, saying that it would be a “key recreational facility for young people and families”.
In a letter to Inner West Council General Manager Peter Gainsford last month, Suellen Fitzgerald, the chief executive of the Greater Sydney Parklands Trust, showed her support for the project, saying that “our parks are highly valued by the community and the capacity for youth to be engaged with natural areas is of key community importance”.
“We are keenly aware that these types of facilities for young people are highly valued by many in the community and that the opportunity for young people to engage in popular outdoor activities contributes to both physical and mental wellbeing.”
In sharing the letter via Twitter, Inner West Labor mayor Darcy Byrne thanked Fitzgerald for her support, adding that “the public interest must win out over the fear campaign against the kids facility”.
Leichhardt skate park plans back on the table after council back-and-forth
Plans for the Inner West skate park were on public exhibition until April 4. Photo: Inner West Council.
Plans for the skate park were halted in December 2020 after a council motion to rescind approvals given one month earlier to the Leichhardt Park management plan was carried, in a move that Cr Byrne labelled a “betrayal of local children and young people”.
With Labor now holding a one-seat majority in council following December’s elections, the skate park was put back on public exhibition until April 4 this year, with Cr Byrne saying that he “can’t wait for us to finally make [the skate park] happen”.
While the skate park has been supported by the state government, some locals remain concerned over the threat to public trees, canopy cover and open green space. Resident Peter Watts said that while “skate parks are desirable”, trees and parkland “are essential”.
“The hand must fit the glove,” Watts said. “The proposed skate park at Leichhardt Park is an occasion where the hand does not fit the glove – no matter how far it’s stretched. Too many trees and precious parkland would be lost.”
In the 2020 motion to rescind, it was successfully requested that council “find a more suitable location for the skate park in Leichhardt Park” and consult about options for a new location.
The motion was carried by the five-seat Greens bloc, Independents John Stamolis and Victor Macri, and Liberal Julie Passas. Macri and Passas lost their seats at December’s elections, with the latter also running as an independent after not receiving endorsement from the Liberal Party.