“Do you want to go for a drive? I’ve got something I want to show you.”
City of Swan mayor David Lucas said those words a couple of minutes into what was meant to be a sit-down interview with himself and deputy mayor Kevin Bailey.
The latest motion regarding the Midland Oval Redevelopment had passed last week, and I thought it would be important to find out what happens next, so I arranged for a chat at Boardroom Café, outside the restrictive settings of the media desk at an ordinary meeting of council.
I didn’t expect to go for a drive, I figured I’d be out of the office for half-an-hour, tops.
A ten-minute drive later, we arrived at Pegasus Park. It’s in the Iluna Private Estate in Bennett Springs, and at quarter-past two on an ordinary Tuesday – albeit during school holidays – the playground was packed with kids and parents.
None of those parents and kids live in the Estate – the display homes haven’t been finished yet, let alone any real family homes – but still the park was packed.
It’s been a consistent argument that you’ve heard from the opposition to the Midland Oval Redevelopment and you’ve read on banners.
Where will the children play?
If the number of children playing at Pegasus Park is any indication, in a few years they’ll be playing at the redeveloped Midland Oval.
In a relatively small space, the park has facilities for cricket, basketball, tennis and netball, with trampolines, slides and sun-decks for the parents.
There’s even a smart-bench, a solar-powered bench you can charge portable devices on via USB connections.
It’s the sort of thing you just don’t see in Midland, and it’s exactly what the mayor wants to bring to the Midland Oval.
“If we can activate a space before people go an live in an area, it will be an attractor for people to want to live and recreate in that area, and that’s an important thing.
“Playgrounds have changed and this isn’t meant to be a sports oval, it’s meant to be a place where people can take their children and have fun.
“With more residents coming into the Midland CBD, if we don’t have the right, appropriate level of activation for a range of children as well as adults, it’s pointless,” Cr Lucas said.
The deputy mayor chimed in.
“It has to be an attractor for people outside the development to come into the CBD and use that as their space where they can go about their normal business, they can shop and have meals, and they can still have that safe environment and the kids can still play, a whole active space rather than the traditional go down to the end of the street to a park with a green open space with hardly anyone in it.
“This is an active space that can be activated on a 24/7 basis.”
If you’re not buying the vision Cr Lucas is selling, maybe Jaleesa Dearle could convince you.
She came down from Brabham to play at Pegasus Park with her niece Ebbie.
“We came down here to play sport, there’s lot of facilities, it’s fantasic.
“We bought a tennis racquet, a basketball and we can use it all here, Ebbie enjoys it and yeah, I think it’s a place you’d travel to.”
Daniel Degois, down at the park with his wife and kids, agreed with Ms Dearle.
“I’m from Beechboro, but we drove here from Mindarie, we’ve been out today looking at a few places for the kids to play and we saw this and thought we’d give it a go.
“The kids are really enjoying it, it’s great.”
“We’re always trying to find new places for the kids to play and if they had something like this in Midland, yeah that’s pretty close, we’d go down there.”
Cr Lucas knows he won’t be able to convince everyone, that there are people who won’t accept Midland Oval as anything but green open space.
At the end of the day, the sports that used to have their homes on Midland Oval – the sports that used to fight over when they could train and play – have all relocated to better facilities.
The mayor is convinced that with facilities like Pegasus Park, with a vision that will bring people into the area, the Midland Oval redevelopment can succeed.
You might be tempted to write this article off as a propaganda piece, but I have no skin in the game, no vested interest. I just know what I like, and if the City can indeed replicate what I was shown at Pegasus Park on a bigger scale in the open space at the redeveloped oval, that success will be that much closer.