Kerry Wright, Suffolk Park
Thank you Echo (10 February) for your support in publishing an informative article about the Council-approved Pump Track Stage 2 development at Suffolk Park. To clarify, I am not a homeowner there, and I never call teens ‘adolescents’ (they hate it). I have lived here for many years, am very interested in processes, voice, and conflict resolution, and have no fixed agenda. Small issues are no different from big ones, and apparently we are in the right astrological phase for dialogue with open hearts and open minds, in Australia and globally.
The pump track issue is much deeper than complaints about ‘teens on BMX bikes causing a ruckus’: it is about listening, consideration, voice, widening understanding, not dominating or bullying, avoiding subterfuge, truthful negotiation, environmental education, and understanding real community decision-making, and wisdom.
Currently, the ‘pump track plan’ (as published) has no scale, accuracy or logic. It does not have an EIS (environmental impact study) of the creek, or its impact on community (skateboards and teens are noisy, as the skate park section neighbours will attest), and is largely confidently fluffy communication without proper information, much less attempted negotiation. Many residents directly affected were not even informed, despite claims of consultation.
After being invited in, and interviewing many people, and gathering up facts, it is fair for me to say there are serious issues here. Cr Paul Spooner did reply, with common sense. Simon Richardson’s slightly patronising answers did not address the very real concerns, but most alarming was the process, re: Stage 2 approval. There is nothing around this decision that is different from a ‘large skate park’ behind the library, with serious money involved, when there is clearly a need for a well-deserved Arts and Cultural Centre in town. We might want to look at how to stabilise the town in a healthy liveable way, for all, not just access big money for the loudest interest groups. As a former teacher and humanitarian I am very aware of teenage dynamics, and needs, as I try to be with all groups and voices in our diverse culture.
In Margo Kingston’s lovely words ‘Conservationists – true conservatives – have gifted special places to their descendents for generations’. The original donor of this Parkland, George Mitsios, an environmentalist and activist, would agree wholeheartedly. At present, the use of the park is diverse, aware of issues as they arise, and balanced. Constant noise and more traffic down that end will throw things out, big-time.
If this process was not flawed, there would be no loud outcry from intelligent adult residents. Ballina and Lennox Head BOTH rejected a pump track near residences.