BUILDING the planned $800,000 skatepark at Mt Martha should take about three months, but work is on hold because Mt Martha Tennis Club has leased the preferred site until 2023.
Mornington Peninsula Shire can seek to change the lease but it can only be revoked if the tennis club agrees.
The club is opposed to the site chosen for the skatepark by the shire in 2012, but it is the only one acceptable to Heritage Victoria on the historic parade ground near Mt Martha Community Centre at the corner of The Esplanade and Dominion Rd.
The club says the skatepark is too close to its tennis courts and also wants to build another court in the same spot as that selected for the skaters.
The shire’s chief operating officer Alison Leighton says the club pays $961 a year for the land occupied under its 15-year lease.
Ms Leighton said work on the skatepark “can begin once legal access to the site has been secured”.
The three Briars Ward councillors all say they back the skatepark, although only Cr Andrew Dixon has been openly critical of the tennis club.
He has accused the club of “effectively holding the rest of the community to ransom” (“Lease bungle delays skatepark”, The News 7/6/16).
Although it would be another two weeks before the shire would officially admit to the impasse, Cr Dixon said councillors were considering revoking the club’s lease.
However, Ms Leighton’s latest response (17 June) shows that this can only happen with the club’s consent.
Cr Dixon accused the club of displaying “the most selfish behaviour we’ve witnessed by a community group since the council term began in 2012”.
His ward colleagues, Crs Anne Shaw and Bev Colomb, were more conciliatory. Cr Shaw, without mentioning any problems with the tennis club, said she was looking forward to “seeing the skatepark delivered … it can’t happen soon enough”.
Cr Colomb said the skate park site was the only one that met a heritage ruling. “There is nowhere else suitable,” she said.
“I would have thought that a club that has benefited very well from ratepayer funds would be very appreciative and would wish to see other members of the community enjoying some fun and social time.”
Council elections are due in October and the three Briars Ward councillors are no doubt hoping they will be able to announce a breakthrough on the skatepark issue at a community meeting on 21 July.
“Everyone is welcome to come along and hear about what’s happening in the Briars Ward. Hear about the latest ward news including: current projects, updates, guest speakers and question time,” a shire news release states.
Crs Colomb, Shaw and Dixon are expected at the meeting at 6pm Thursday, 21 July at the Mornington Peninsula Shire offices, Council Chambers, 2 Queen St, Mornington.
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