ANGRY residents screamed abuse at City of Ryde council staff during a heated protest meeting to save Ann Thorn Park in Meadowbank on Monday.
Residents were informed by a leaflet drop on Friday that a strip of the park on Constitution Road is to be dug up to install infrastructure for the neighbouring Holdmark development and for most residents it was the last straw.
“This is appalling, an absolute disgrace, ” residents braved torrential rain to yell at the council’s Acting Director of Public Works, Joe So.
“You and the State Government are listening to developers, not to us, you have been grabbing overseas money and now you’re grabbing the only park we’ve got left in Meadowbank and the only place our children can play.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Some residents only found out about the proposed works on the weekend when parkland trees were cordoned off and huge tyre marks churned up across parkland where children learn to ride bikes.
“These units going up across the road were built on land that was supposed to be parkland and this council and this government have stood by for 15 years as we’ve lost the lot,” one resident shouted.
Mr So said approval to use the parkland – like approval for the development itself – is currently before a State Government Joint Regional Planning Panel and other government departments.
He insisted the council had only been informed of the parkland works on Thursday.
“Yes, the park is council property but utilities have rights over us,” he told residents.
The Greens candidate for Bennelong Justin Alick was at the protest and said that while this is a shocking scenario, the new council is not to blame.
“The State Government has rights over local government because local government is not recognised in the constitution and The Greens want to change that,” Mr Alick said.
“What we have here is a property developer that has sought State Government approval to widen Constitution Road next to this park, take over parkland, remove street parking and rip out trees.
“This is a beautiful park with native trees, where children ride bikes and young children play with their parents.
“Residents have every right to be angry.”
Mr Alick was supported by The Greens two councillors in Ryde, Deputy Mayor Christopher Gordon and Clr Edwina Clifton alongside Labor Clr Bernard Purcell.
They are expected to demand “a damn good explanation” from the State Government and from Ryde MP Victor Dominello, who has led previous protests against Holdmark’s perceived over development in Meadowbank.
Residents are skeptical.
“We had a meeting with Victor Dominello almost a decade ago and we’ve got back nothing,” one angry resident said.
“We don’t care if the developer needs access to this park to install utilities, it is our park and the developer can take its greedy hands off it !”
Hands Off Our Park ! The Greens candidate for Bennelong Justin Alick (centre) braves torrential rain in Meadowbank on Monday as angry residents protest against threats to local Ann Thorn Park on Constitution Road. TWT on-the-spot PHOTO