THE Mt Martha House management committee has joined Mt Martha Tennis Club in opposing a skatepark being built on the parade ground near the tennis courts at the corner of The Esplanade and Dominion Rd.
Mornington Peninsula councillors included $800,000 for the skatepark in their latest budget and successfully negotiated approval from Heritage Victoria before being told the site is leased to the tennis club.
The club is opposed to the skatepark being built next to its tennis courts and now the committee that manages nearby Mt Martha House has also announced its continuing opposition to the site.
Committee chairman Bob Davies says the skatepark should be built at Ferrero Reserve.
“The current mess is really due to the failure of the shire to conduct a proper due diligence study at the time the decision to go with Mt Martha House was made and, more particularly, after Heritage Victoria ruled that the only place the skate park could go was hard up against the tennis court fence, Mr Davies said.
Cr Anne Shaw told The News on Thursday that the parade ground “absolutely” remained “the right location”.
She said an “extensive process” was undertaken to find the best location for the Mt Martha skatepark and the parade ground chosen because it “is visible, on a public transport route, close to the shops and toilets”.
“So this site ticked the boxes and it still does. Other sites such as Fererro Reserve do not have passive surveillance or footpaths,” Cr Shaw said.
“The young people strongly support this [parade ground] site and that is evidenced by their Facebook page Mount Martha Skatepark at Mount Martha House.
“It doesn’t matter where you choose, not everyone will be happy, Interestingly, Heritage Victoria supported the skatepark but not an additional tennis court.
“It’s time it was built, it’s a local skatepark for our kids. Time for everyone to support our young people and give them a go.”
Cr Shaw’s Briars Ward colleague Cr Andrew Dixon has accused the tennis of club of holding the community to ransom by continuing its opposition to the siting of the skatepark (“Lease bungle delays skatepark”, The News 7/6/16).
Cr Dixon said councillors were considering revoking the tennis club’s lease which expires in 2013.
Some weeks later council officers admitted the lease could only be revoked “by agreement” – something the tennis club is unlikely to agree with.
The third Briars Ward councillor, Bev Colomb has told The News “There is nowhere else suitable for the skatepark”.
Mr Davies said the reserve, Eco Park opposite Mt Martha Primary School and the parade ground were the three sites chosen in mid-2012 as being suitable for the skatepark.
He said Eco Park, the shire’s “preferred location”, was dropped after residents protested and Ferrero Reserve, which already had toilets and a children’s playground, “also failed to score”.
“The bottom line at the time was that Cr Shaw was determined to have it at Mt Martha House,” Mr Davies said.
Mr Davies says nothing has changed since the Mt Martha House management committee wrote to council in August 2012 saying the parade ground was inappropriate because of (a) a lack of adequate toilet facilities, (b) potential adverse affect on the annual carols by candlelight (c) additional strain on already limited parking areas and (d) a lack of playground support facilities which are available at all other local skateparks.
“All four issues are equally relevant today. We also reminded the shire of the potential problem of negotiating with Heritage Victoria for permission to construct such a facility at Mt Martha House,” Mr Davies said last week.
“At the shire’s forward planning meeting in August 2012 held to consider the skatepark issue the [Mt Martha] football club’s representative stated that the club was prepared to manage a skatepark at Ferrero Reserve. The bottom line at the time was that Cr Shaw was determined to have it at Mt Martha House.
“My point is that, not withstanding Cr Dixon’s recent emotive statements, there are viable alternative sites available for the skatepark.”