This week I went to three separate streets in the same area trying desperately to find some residents at home. Obviously a bad time of day for the first two but the third had nearly all at home and they were willing to spend a few minutes having a chat. The area is in the middle of Bentley Park and one which I am very familiar with, having lived there previously for a few years. The street, Beagle Close. Off Resolution Drive.
The houses here are more established than the previous few streets I have been down and it's obvious. The trees are large, the houses have plenty of personality and the residents are true locals. They were very happy to impart their knowledge of the area and add to the store of information I now have due to this initiative. One resident was very enthusiastic and spoke for a good 45 minutes about the area he very obviously loves and what he sees as it's potential pitfalls.
How would they spend a spare $50? Buy something for the kids or go out for dinner. Once again it became apparent that the lack of choice for evenings out on this side of town is detrimental to the residents and they would frequent restaurants if there were any. The local pubs are good, the food is okay and the kids are catered for but if you want a night out without children in a restaurant that has a bit of atmosphere, there is very little choice out here.
Sugarworld is missed by all of the people living in the South Side and this street was no different. There was disappointment by some that the new all-abilities playground is now fully fenced. This means that you can no longer take a picnic down there, place a rug on the grass and let the kids go back and forth between the playground and you. Instead, they will be in a fully enclosed playground area without adequate seating, no space for placing rugs on grass, an entry/exit gate that is not close to the toilets and the open, spacious feel of the facility is now a thing of the past. This is believed to be the result of the all-ability requirements that dictates children must be fenced in to create a safer environment for them to play in. I disagree and believe that safety was never an issue as the playground area is far enough away from the car park to enable parents to head off children before they get into any kind of danger. The playground is not yet open or operational though, so we will soon see if the end result is better than what is indicated at the moment.
The Cultural Precinct is an obscure, unreal, distant thing to these residents. Most do not have children old enough for school productions and they all indicated that they would not care if there was a museum in the area as they were highly unlikely to go to it. They conceded that the Civic Theatre is ugly and old and were happy with the Cultural Precinct being built, as long as the basics in the suburbs were not going to suffer.
Playgroups are an important part of weekly life for all of these residents. They all stated that there was not enough for kids to do in the area and that without Playgroup the kids would be going stir crazy. They can't afford the cost of places like Squeekers. For one family I visited, three children under 5 plus two older ones would equal an entry fee of $36, add the cost of drinks and snacks and it's a rare treat, not a weekly social outing. A trip to the movies would be $90 for tickets and approximately $40 for 3 drinks and popcorn to share. Dinner at the Grafton Hotel would be at least $150 for the family. Understandably, they don't go out much.
There is free sport for kids at Ravizza Park at the moment on Friday afternoons. This initiative is one from the Council and is happening in several suburbs around Cairns, including Woree, and it should be advertised in school newsletters and not just via Councillor's newsletters and blogs. Something that is free, available to all, has separate groups for different ages and is running every single week should have loud and large proclamations to inform the public that it is happening. Five houses in this street with kids......not one single one of those knew about the sport activities. That's poor.
There were a few residents who were upset with the lack of care that Council is showing the local parks and recreational areas. There was concern that graffiti on the half pipe on Roberts Rd is being ignored for too long and that beer cans and rubbish are strewn through some of the local park areas nestled in the suburb.
One resident spoke to the area Councillor about their concerns regarding the use of trail bikes in the area and wanted signage back up in the park to inform people that trail bikes are not allowed. He was told that it was not an issue for Council and instead he should call police. This response was seen as an inappropriate and unacceptable one. His belief is that the Councillor should listen to the residents about their concerns and then should follow them up. If they are not Council issues, they can still forward the information to the correct area or give the resident the details so they can do it themselves.
Being a Councillor does not end on election day (his words, not mine) and his belief was that this Councillor was highly visible prior to being elected, but faded from view immediately after. According to him, it's likely that the Councillor will come back in the public eye shortly, to prepare for the next election, but for him at least, it's too little too late.
Interestingly, he was the only resident who knew the name of the Councillor so it appears she is becoming known for all the wrong reasons.
Another week, another street. The messages from this week? Simple really, advertise properly if you are holding an event or an activity that is available to all and is low or no cost to residents so that they can utilise them. Also, if you visit a park or a facility in any area, clean up after yourself. Lastly, if something is bugging you about the street you live in, the suburb you live in or the region you live in, write a letter to the Editor, make a phone call and kick up a bit of a fuss. Nothing is ever achieved when we all stew quietly. Get loud!!