A PUBLIC park in Langwarrin has been saved from redevelopment after an intense community campaign.
Plans to build a kindergarten at Langwarrin’s Long Street Reserve were scrapped at Frankston Council’s last meeting. Instead, the Langwarrin Community Centre has been chosen as the kindergarten’s new home.
Frankston councillors secretly voted to nominate Long Street Reserve as their preferred site for a new kindergarten in a behind-closed-doors meeting late last year. The unanimous vote was made public soon after, and backlash began.
A petition with more than 1700 signatures was handed to Frankston Council opposing the plans. It read “Long Street Reserve isn’t only an important place for the surrounding residents but the whole of the Langwarrin community. It is a meeting point for friends and family, a place for dogs to run around, home to many Australian native flora and wildlife. It is a safe playground accommodating for children of all ages, which is hard to find in Langwarrin.”
“This proposal will transform our safe and quiet neighbourhood to a high-risk area due to the increased traffic. We, the undersigned, are the advocate for the neighbourhood, our children, nature and wildlife and we request that the Frankston City Council stop this proposal,” the petition read.
Frankston Council voted to abandon its Long Street Reserve plans last Monday, 31 July. Instead councillors chose Langwarrin Community Centre as the new site for the kinder, and also voted to begin the process of upgrading the nearby Athol Reserve. The mayor Nathan Conroy said that the Langwarrin Community Centre solution had only recently emerged, and was a “no-brainer”.
“This has been going on for close to ten years trying to pick out a site in Langwarrin,” he said. “The reason I am going to support this is because it invests in upgrading Athol Reserve, we will monitor traffic management, we avoid building on Long Street, we will save Langwarrin Community Centre first and foremost, and after ten years of investigations we are going to deliver the kinder and maternal and child health rooms that are needed for the future generations of Langwarrin.”
A report prepared by council officers read that the Langwarrin Community Centre had approached council seeking to “explore the opportunity to provide early years services.”
“Considering the current proposal for the Langwarrin Child and Family Centre at Long Street Reserve and the strong community interest, this presented an opportunity to investigate the Langwarrin Community Centre as an alternative location for early years service provision,” council officers wrote. “All feasibility assessments have confirmed that the Langwarrin Community Centre is feasible to accommodate the early years services. Officers have worked collaboratively with the Langwarrin Community Centre Committee to reach an in-principle agreement on proposed changes to the space within the centre.”
The deal still relies on ministerial approval and a state government contribution of $6.75 million. The council report read that there is “indicative state government funding” for the project which is “subject to establishing a ‘building blocks partnership agreement’ with state government and maintaining the existing Long Street kindergarten for the provision of kindergarten to not reduce the number of kindergarten places overall.”
Council has agreed to spend $75,000 this financial year to help the Langwarrin Community Centre with the transition, and pay a recurrent site management fee.
Seven out of nine Frankston councillors voted to approve the Langwarrin Community Centre option last week – councillors Liam Hughes and Steven Hughes abstained. The abstaining councillors flagged support for an alternate motion which would have also approved the community centre solution without the condition of ministerial approval, but ultimately the alternate was not raised.