Monday, October 18, 2010

Polling the Neighbourhood........Meranti Street

Just past Miltonia Street, which I walked a few weeks ago, is another 'M' street only this one is much longer, much quieter, much more least it was from the outside.

I mentioned before that Miltonia Street was all locked up from the front and not inviting at all. Meranti Street is much the same. I wonder if it's the fact that it's a new area that makes it lack a little pizzazz? Perhaps it's the fact that the entire neighbourhood has 6 foot fences surrounding each home making them look even more closed off and isolated to the rest of the world. It may even be as simple as the fact that these houses are so alike, they almost blend into one another, not a good way to advertise the personalities and vibrant people hiding behind the beige walls.

And believe me, these residents were FULL of pizzazz!!

The number one topic was Sugarworld. Not because of the slide debacle, although that was mentioned often, but in reference to it being the only usable green space in the area. It was mentioned so often that it became abundantly clear that this was a really significant problem for those living in this area. I have looked at the maps thoroughly and can see for myself that they are absolutely spot-on in their claims. There are a few little areas dedicated to so called 'green spaces' but they have no swings, no park, no seating and no pathways. They are also so spread out that they are not really accessible to the majority of the population in the back of Edmonton.

There is a new large playground due to start shortly at the end of Slipper Street, adjacent to Blackfellow Creek on the western side of Walker Road, that will feature many and varied play equipment like swings, forts, slides, rope ladders and bobbles. That's fantastic, it will be good for nearby residents to have a destination to take small kids to, maybe a packed lunch, and enjoy the views and the lovely spot they are in. It is of no use to those I spoke to this morning though. They want small spaces, suitable for all ages, where kids can ride their bikes down the road, not have to cross any busy streets, and have a bit of fun. Perhaps a small half-pipe, or half of a basketball court? With house lots getting so small, yards shrinking fast, it's up to the developers and the Council to ensure that we don't end up with a whole community filled with bored kids aged 5-15. They are old enough to ride a bike, too young to go far alone. Large parks are great for the entire community but the little spots at the end of streets with trees, swings and a space to kick a ball are more beneficial to everyone in the long run.

I don't know if it's too late for this particular area, but the new houses popping up all around this street need to have plans to involve adequate and usable green space within their developments.

Plenty of people living in this street have complained about the cost of living, most specifically the cost of electricity. The houses have solar hot water but due to the lack of sunshine this year, have had to use electricity for most of the time. Those renting are struggling to get landlords to put them on a lower tariff, so they are also paying the highest rate available. It should be common sense to all those with investment properties to place the electricity costs onto the lowest tariff possible. I actually thought that the renter was responsible for all of that anyway, but I haven't rented for several years so I am very likely incorrect in that assumption.

These residents would all spend their $50 on bills or their kids. New shoes, new clothes, school uniforms and sports uniforms make up a large percentage of a family's household income. As a mother of three I am well aware of the costs of keeping my children clothed. There are always bargains to be had but for some reason, schools and sports clubs do not take bargain shopping into account when they design the uniforms. They are usually only available at one or two specialty stores and the costs are, on average, $70 per uniform and $50 for shoes. Without adding the cost of socks and (for girls) hair ties, this is around $120 per uniform. Each child would need about 3 uniforms each (minimum) and if you, like me, have three children, that leaves you over $1,000 out of pocket each time your children have a growth spurt and that happens far too often for most budgets. Some schools have excellent second-hand stores within the school that offer some items at very low cost for those who are struggling or just need a spare uniform at home but the sizes are limited, they are usually in pretty poor condition and they often don't stock sports uniforms.

The final concern for this street was the lack of funding for local sporting groups and the lack of adequate facilities. I was told that the southern rugby league team had over 30 members in it's under 13 side this year. That meant that they had to rotate players every week, they had to deal with angry parents and bored kids and this problem will only increase next year and all subsequent years. There are only a certain number of teams allowed in the competition in the Cairns Region. Because of the rules, the south side can only enter one team. This leaves lots of kids sitting on the sidelines when they should be out there playing the game they signed up for. They play in the facility at Peterson Road, which has been denounced many, many times over the past few years for it's lack of....well.....everything! There are two toilets, one mens, one womens. There are insufficient car parks and parents are getting booked for parking on the street outside the facility. There are inadequate lights, which results in some teams having to share one third of a field for practice. On weekends when a game is on, there are approximately 300 people at this facility. Did I mention before that there are two toilets? You do the math.

There are teams in other sports who run out of the south side area but are actually north side teams, simply because there are not enough kids on the north side to form teams, and there are too many on this side.

The baseball team has no diamond. It probably doesn't seem like that big a deal to most people, but if you love the sport, you have the numbers to form teams and you have parents who are dedicated to the sport, not having anywhere to play would be pretty horrendous. Not to mention frustrating, annoying, disheartening..........the list is endless.

These residents don't care about the city, they all avoid it. They don't have strong opinions either way about the Precinct, but they all want a new Civic Theatre. They want Sugarworld up and running as soon as possible and they would all be frugal with their spare cash.

Nobody knew the name of their Councillor but that no longer surprises me.

This street has a family focus. They want their kids to have access to local spaces for them to play, access to adequate sporting facilities and more understanding from Governments on the true costs of raising a family.

Nothing that any of the streets I have so far travelled to have asked for the impossible. They have all had realistic goals and their wants and needs are pretty simple really. For some reason this area appears to be lagging behind the rest of Cairns in regard to having those needs met. Perhaps they do have the same as most other areas have, but this area is not the same. There are more kids here, there are larger populations, more dense populations and this is growing rapidly. If Council are focussed on forming a 30 year plan for Cairns, they need to start now, they need to build what this area needs and they need to ensure that any future development in this area does not have the same concerns and problems as those only recently built.


  1. Good work Leigh ... that is the way to find out what people are thinking.

    Keep it up, some of us are listening!

    Warm Regards,

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