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Harold Rossiter Reserve


Harold Rossiter Reserve and a Synthetic Turf Facility

Residents of the Town of Victoria Park recently became aware that the Victoria Park Xavier Hockey Club is seeking to relocate to Harold Rossiter Reserve, including replacing one of the grass ovals there with a synthetic turf pitch.

The Town of Victoria Park and the Hockey club have been working on this together for a number of years, and the Town of Victoria Park has, in that time, commissioned and received a number of reports which do not support this proposal.

These reports found the proposal to be too risky from an environmental perspective and warned of significant community outrage.  And yet the council continued to pursue Harold Rossiter as a venue.

Harold Rossiter Reserve is home to endangered black cockatoos and beautiful, established Tuart trees. It is the best park in the area for passive recreation such as dog walking. Anyone who visits the park on a sunny afternoon will see exactly how well the space is used by local passive users, schools, sporting groups, dog walkers, children and runners. There is an existing soccer club at the reserve who have been there for thirty years and who would need to be displaced for this proposal to go ahead.

There is very limited parking at the park. The carpark is at complete capacity when only one soccer match is being played. The Hockey club proposes having four games played simultaneously on weekends. Many are concerned about where these cars will park, as the current carpark is directly adjacent to the ecologically unique Kensington Bushland.
While some members of the Hockey Club and some Councillors have suggested that no trees would need to be removed in order to accommodate the synthetic turf, the reports commissioned by the council suggest something different.

These trees are roost trees for black cockatoos and even if they were not lost, the construction and use of lighting towers near them to allow the synthetic turf to be used after dark would interfere with the roost, as would any trimming or pruning of these trees, which may be considered necessary to prevent branches falling on the turf.
Several community members have expressed grave concerns about this proposal occurring at Harold Rossiter Reserve. The synthetic turf would replace the existing middle oval and be fully fenced, significantly reducing the amount of passive recreation space available to users. In one of the studies considered by council, there was a proposal to prepare the ground for a possible future second synthetic turf when installing the first – two, fully fenced, synthetic turfs would mean that the passive space on this reserve would disappear completely.

There are further concerns about water use, both for maintaining the turf and for getting the grass fields to a suitable standard for hockey, and the heat impact of the synthetic surface on the surrounding grass and trees.

The main issue at play here is the proposed location of the synthetic turf facility. The community understands that the Hockey club needs a synthetic turf in order to continue to develop as a club. Furthermore, they are a very large club who do terrific things within the community. Everyone who uses the park would be delighted to see the hockey club have a synthetic turf at a more suitable location within the Town of Victoria Park or in a nearby area.
It breaks my heart when this issue is used to drive a wedge between community members. No one is anti-hockey, and likewise, no one is anti-green space.
The community is very concerned by the way this has been managed by the Town of Victoria Park. 

Despite repeated reports recommending that Harold Rossiter Reserve is not a suitable location, they continued to consider the issue, spending rate-payers money on staff time and more reports, and giving the hockey club hope that their proposal may be accepted. If council had acted sooner on the reports that did not support this venue and worked with the hockey club to seek alternatives, the club may already be playing on an excellent synthetic turf at a better location.

The fact that the existing soccer club at the reserve only found out through word of mouth, when they were going to be displaced by the proposal, has caused significant community concern about the way council has managed this issue.
At the Council meeting in July, the council voted to investigate other options, but has kept Harold Rossiter Park in their considerations. Members of the community are optimistic that a more suitable venue can be found for the hockey club, but they will continue to fight against Harold Rossiter Park being that location until the council states it is no longer one of the venues being considered.

Bronwyn Ife

For more information including a quick poll via the Town of Victoria Park’s website, click here.

Please click here to go to the Harold Rossiter Reserve Community Action Group website.

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