16 February 2024

Government looking again at toilets for popular Ruth Park Playground

| Ian Bushnell
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Ruth Park Playground in Coombs

Families enjoy the Ruth Park Playground in Coombs. It’s a long way to a toilet. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

A petition calling for the construction of toilets at the increasingly popular Ruth Park Playground in Coombs looks likely to find favour with new City Services Minister Tara Cheyne.

Ms Cheyne told Region the government was revisiting the need for toilets at the playground on Edgeworth Parade, given that people were spending longer periods of time there.

The $7m playground was constructed without toilets and a carpark because of objections from nearby residents concerned about them attracting antisocial behaviour, something they say is already happening, especially after dark.

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Those residents, who had bought into the area expecting an open space next to Holdens Creek Pond, did not want the playground in the first place, arguing that what was proposed was too big for the 0.6 ha site, contravening the government’s design standards that require at least 4 ha for a destination playground.

Some even question the legality of the development.

They say the playground’s popularity has now created traffic and parking problems on Edgeworth Parade, and are calling for traffic calming measures including a lower speed limit, centre islands and pedestrian crossings to ease safety concerns, especially for children.

It is believed five properties opposite the park were recently put on the market, the owners having found the situation intolerable.

The petition sponsored by Murrumbidgee MLA, Dr Marisa Paterson, says the lack of toilet facilities hampers the overall experience for families at the playground.

“This has led to substantial inconvenience for parents and children, and results in children ducking behind bushes and trees or parents having to leave the park – neither of which are acceptable solutions,” it says.

“We understand that the decision not to include toilets was a result of consultations with nearby residents.

“While we respect the concerns raised by the community prior to the park being developed however, we believe that addressing the need for toilet facilities is crucial for the wellbeing and convenience of all park visitors.”

City Services Minister Tara Cheyne

City Services Minister Tara Cheyne at another playground under construction in Aranda. Supporting infrastructure is available for a toilet block in Coombs.

Ms Cheyne said there was supporting infrastructure there to install toilets.

“Given the push from the community and the very effective representation from Dr Paterson, it is something we’re taking another look at,” she said.

Residents’ concerns would be taken seriously but “given the popularity, given that it is a place people are lingering and staying and enjoying for longer, a toilet facility is something we’re looking at, particularly if there is infrastructure there to support it”.

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Ms Cheyne said the parking and traffic issues had not been considered yet but she would be happy to take a look at the situation and talk to residents.

“I think the value of that area is something that residents also take seriously, that they do enjoy the park,” she said. “I appreciate that being near infrastructure that is enjoyed by a wide number of people across the population does bring with it some challenges and we can look at that.

“If there are safety considerations obviously that’s a priority for us and we’re clear about that in our active travel plan and that extends to our community infrastructure.”

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Photo shows it’s got a barbecue area. I guess the toilets-opposing residents had hoped it would be a nice micro-neighborhood facility for people living within a very short walking distance, where they could nip over the street back home for a pee after a few beers, then walk back to check the sausages. That’s not necessarily a bad idea, but the other amenities, like the big adventure slide thingy and waterfront location, made it too attractive to stay a secret. Guess there’s a lesson there for planners.

Why would you build a park without parking or toilets, is that to discourage its use

The residents got what they asked for. No toilets, no carpark. And now they’re realising that kids at the playground might actually need to pee / poop, and their parents park all over the street. Be careful what you wish for

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