Lake Cathie is growing … not surprising, considering the natural beauty of the area. Michael Fullbrook, Monica Robinson and Clare Gray are three members of a very active committee determined to establish a skate and recreation park in Lake Cathie for older children – a facility they believe is needed for the future safety of residents in the area, and to cater for the burgeoning population.
You’re part of a very active volunteer group keen to establish a skate and recreation park in Lake Cathie. When did the group form, and roughly how many volunteers/helpers do you currently have?
Michael: Lake Cathie Skate and Recreation Park Project is a large community group, with over 35 active members of all ages and backgrounds. We are supported by the Lake Cathie Bonny Hills Lions Club, who have made this their major project for the Lions International Centenary year.
An initial community interest meeting was held in August 2016, with over 100 people attending. The working group was formed shortly afterwards and commenced the planning and consultation process.
A previous petition for a skatepark started by a local teenager gathered 323 supporters, and our Facebook page currently has 349 followers. Many younger supporters also follow our Instagram page.
Why does the group feel this facility is needed in Lake Cathie?
Monica: Lake Cathie has a number of children’s playgrounds suitable for children aged two – eight years of age, but there is a lack of suitable recreational facilities to engage older children or teenagers in the area.
Unfortunately, if a town has no skatepark, keen skaters will still find somewhere to skate, and many young people resort to skating in the shopping centre carpark and surrounds – which is an unsafe environment, given the traffic and truck movement.
The need for a recreation park has been recognised for a long time, with efforts in 2007 getting some great traction. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of its supporters, the project did not proceed at that time, with funds raised going towards the Bonny Hills skatepark.
The population of Lake Cathie has changed dramatically since then, and continues to change rapidlyom, with people under the age of 15 years currently making up 21.8% of Lake Cathie’s population (propertydata.realestateview.com). This will continue to grow, as between 2011 and 2026, the age structure forecasts for Lake Cathie – Bonny Hills indicate a 39.1% increase in population under working age (Port Macquarie-Hastings Council population forecast).
Outdoor recreational facilities provide opportunities for the whole community to improve physical and mental health, through exercise and social interaction.
It’s still early days, yet – but what are some of the proposed sites for the park?
Clare: We are still in the planning stages, but we have already undertaken consultation with a specialist design firm, Enlocus. They have commenced assessment of a number of suggested locations, most of which are within current recreational areas of Lake Cathie, and are providing us with feedback on suitability.
There are a number of priorities when considering site choices, particularly safety, accessibility, visibility, access to facilities such as toilets and parking, and environmental impacts. We are also working closely with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council who are supportive of this project being incorporated into the Lake Cathie Foreshore Masterplan.
Whichever site is ultimately chosen, our main priority is to provide an expertly designed, integrated community space, which will provide safe recreational opportunities and entertainment for all ages within the community.
What facilities do you hope the park will offer the local community?
Michael: Our aim is to have an integrated approach of both landscape architecture and active recreation design that results in a unique all-abilities, family oriented skate and recreational park.
Engaging a specialist landscape/recreational design firm such as Enlocus will ensure that this will be a quality recreational facility within an enhanced open space. Their expertise is in creating recreational parks that offer a mix of green space for passive recreation and a variety of recreational elements for those wishing to be active.
Scooter and skate elements will be complemented by other recreational opportunities – ideas so far include climbing structures and a basketball pad and hoop. Accessibility pathways will be a priority, as well as toilet facilities and rubbish bins.
Constructing facilities of this type requires funding. How have you been faring in that department?
Monica: We were thrilled to recently receive a Port Macquarie-Hastings Council Community Grant for $10,000. We have also raised an additional $9,000 in local business sponsorship of a project T-shirt. These funds will cover the costs of community engagement and consultation, as well as site analysis, layout design and planning from the design team at Enlocus.
We have a total funding goal of $500,000, which will ensure a quality, expertly designed recreational park for our whole community. The group is currently seeking information on the most suitable government grants to help us achieve our goals.
What upcoming fundraisers do you have planned?
Clare: We will be selling our sponsored T-shirts at the forecourt of Lake Cathie Woolworths on Saturday 5th August and 2nd September, between 10am and 1pm. We will be volunteering with the Lake Cathie Bonny Hills Lions Club at their Bunnings BBQs on Sunday 20th August and 17th September, as well as getting involved in the October Long Weekend Vintage Motorbike Rally.
Whom would you like to thank for their assistance to date?
Michael: Our major project partner is the Lake Cathie Bonny Hills Lions Club, who have been incredibly supportive and generous in their assistance so far.
The support from local business has been simply amazing, with generous sponsorship of our T-shirt. Lake Cathie Medical Centre is our Platinum T-shirt sponsor, with a long list of other businesses also featured on the shirts.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council have shown their support by awarding us the Community Grant, and we look forward to continuing positive dialogue with the new mayor and all councillors about the Lake Cathie Foreshore Masterplan in the coming months.
Where can we find out more info?
Monica: Our Facebook page is a great source of information! We publicise our fundraising activities and meeting dates on Facebook, as well as Instagram. For those without access to the internet, we publish a regular paper newsletter, which is available at the Lake Cathie Bakery and Lake Cathie Medical Centre.
Anyone interested in being involved can simply come along to one of our meetings, which we hold on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month, 6:30pm at the Lake Cathie Bowling Club, or check our Facebook page: Lake Cathie Skate Recreation Park.