DISAPPOINTED: Mary McDermott of Goonellabah is concerned about Lismore City Council’s plans for the reserve behind her home in D’Arcy Drive.
DISAPPOINTED: Mary McDermott of Goonellabah is concerned about Lismore City Council’s plans for the reserve behind her home in D’Arcy Drive. Cathy Adams

Secret parkland in jeopardy

LONGTIME Goonellabah resident Mary McDermott has a "secret" little park at the back of her property which she shares with around 10 neighbours.

The only access to the park is via an unmarked grass strip which passes between the McDermott residence and their neighbours, making it virtually enclosed by houses.

"It's nice a way of living in the suburbs without feeling so "hemmed-in", and it definitely adds to the value of the houses," Mrs McDermott said.

"My children used to play here - it's definitely a major attraction for families who live in the area," she said.

Such a park is a rare luxury for local homeowners, but one that Lismore City Council, which forks out a regular stream of maintenance money to keep the park up to scratch, sees as a cost no longer worth bearing.

A plan to rezone 17 small parks around Lismore to prepare them for sale will go before councillors at tonight's meeting.

The parks no longer fit into the current criteria of a "neighbourhood park". Parks must now be a minimum of 2500sqm, be fairly flat, provide easy access for most homes in the area, and be able to accommodate playground equipment

"The majority of these parcels are small, poorly functioning neighbourhood parks," the council's rezoning proposal notes.

The report states the sale of the parks would reduce the council's fixed maintenance costs and allow improvements on the remaining parks, but residents are wondering how much the land is really worth.

Many of the 17 parks are on steep or lumpy land with drainage issues - hence the reason they were left vacant in the first place.

For East Lismore mum of three Chauntel Lamborne, the "paddock" out the back of her property is a major asset since her family bought the home 18 months ago.

"There's nine kids here who run wild in the park," Ms Lamborne said.

"They play baseball, cricket, rake the piles of grass into piles and play in the straw, and go out looking for critters."

But parts of the park are so muddy it hasn't been mowed by the council for two months. If approved by councillors, the proposal will require a 28-day public exhibition, public hearing and adjoining landowners will be individually contacted.



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