A group of Blaxland residents has called on the council to restore the village’s “forgotten” park.
Blaxland War Memorial Park was once a popular recreation area but since the highway widening more than 15 years ago the 10,000 square metre pocket of land has become neglected and overgrown.
“It was well used [in its heyday but] the highway has marginalised it and isolated it,” said Blaxland resident and former Blue Mountains Mayor Peter O’Toole.
He has called on the council to investigate the cost and feasibility of restoring the park to its former glory.
“What we’re hoping for is some commitment by the council to go through a process that can invite community comment so we can put up plans for discussion or costing,” he said.
“[Our goal is to] ultimately get back to having kids play cricket here and mums walking here with prams — so that everybody can use the park rather than just let it disappear into oblivion.”
Long-time Blaxland resident Davina Curnow said the park was extremely popular with all community groups until the highway widening. Most people would now only recognise it from the small parcel of land where the memorial to World War I soldier Harold Campbell lies near the Wilson Way/Great Western Highway intersection, she said.
The park in fact extends all the way from Baden Place to Wilson Way on the northern side of the highway.
A spokesperson for Blue Mountains City Council said they were “not considering an upgrade to Blaxland War Memorial Park at this point in time”.
“This is due to a number of reasons, including the park not being heavily utilised and there being no safe pedestrian access to the park nor nearby car parking for park users.
“The proximity of the park to the highway is not considered safe for young children. Also, the noise emanating from the highway and the railway is not conducive to relaxing and recreational activities,” the spokesperson said.
But Mr O’Toole said the challenges caused by the park’s proximity to the highway could be overcome with careful planning.
“We can do anything as long as there’s a commitment there,” he said.
The council spokesperson said the council would continue to undertake maintenance of local parks and playgrounds in line with the 2012-13 maintenance program.
“In its current state, Blaxland War Memorial Park can still be utilised by residents and is valuable as a visual screen to the railway line,” they said.
“Blaxland has a number of other local parks that residents are encouraged to use. These are Thomas Park, the playground at Blaxland Oval and Outrim Park. Council has recently invested $75,000 developing Outrim Park, Blaxland.”
While the official line appeared to offer little hope of the park being restored, Ward 4 council candidate Bruce Roberts said he would promote the issue if elected in September.
“Should I be elected, I want to push for the park to be given that access, possibly at the Baden Place traffic lights, so that the park can be used for a picnic area, Sunday afternoon/driver reviver rest point . . . and possibly a fenced zone for a dog off-leash area,” he said.
Mr O’Toole said the park deserved to be restored.
“Council understandably is always stretched and to take on another park and maintain it, and provide facilities for it, is an expensive enterprise. But it’s a park that was established to commemorate the soldiers from this area who died in the World Wars — it is Blaxland’s War Memorial Park — and so far we’re showing no regard for them and we’re showing no respect for the community,” he said.