Clrs Jackie Donaldson & Charlie Lowles with concerned residents Leo & Janette Gomez & grandchild Logan Gafa, Deanne & Graeme McDonald in the reserve they want to keep in emerton. Picture: Gary WarrickFOR many years, an island reserve in the middle of Helena Avenue, Emerton, is where neighbours have become good friends.
It’s been the place for countless bonfire nights, parties, barbecues, neighbourhood gatherings, ball games and just somewhere for kids to run around.
Residents had no idea it was to be rezoned until a sign was erected there a fortnight ago.
The close-knit community has rallied to collect petitions opposing the proposal.
It’s one of 29 reserves, under 0.15 hectares, earmarked to be sold and developed.
Helena will be the fifth reserve to be taken off the list since July if the residents win.
There may be more after signs were erected in Moresby Crescent, Whalan, Resolution Avenue, Willmot, Siandra Avenue, Shalvey, Dale Grove and Crawley Avenue in Hebersham and Buckwell Drive, Hassall Grove.
Deanne McDonald has lived in Helena Avenue since 1969 and was physically sick when she found out the news.
“The neighbourhood has been in turmoil ever since,” she said.
“This open space is part of our livelihoods.
“Most of us own our own homes so we can’t just pack up and go. The price we’d get for our homes wouldn’t be adequate if we had to move.”
Proceeds will go towards building “mega parks” in each of the five wards.
“Why are they selling our sanity?” Mrs McDonald asked.
“I’m in the process of throwing away my licence because of my diabetes, so I won’t be able to drive my grandchildren to a park.”
Lionel Gomez feared there will be increased crime and noise if the park is to be developed.
“The street will become a ghetto,” he said.
“So many lives will be destroyed if council goes ahead.”
Ward five councillor Charlie Lowles will take the fight to the council on the residents’ behalf.
Liberal Councillor Jackie Donaldson hopes reserves that can’t be developed into housing be turned into community gardens but agreed Helena shouldn’t be sold.
“We should try to make sure we keep this park because its shape isn’t suitable for development,” she said.
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