‘In-principle’ support for nature playground in Cowaramup, but not at Pioneer Park

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Cowaramup residents will have to travel east to enjoy the renewed Cowaramup Hall playground.
Camera IconCowaramup residents will have to travel east to enjoy the renewed Cowaramup Hall playground. Credit: Lisa Bell/RegionalHUB

Cowaramup residents will not be getting the nature playground in Pioneer Park they have been demanding, despite the South West Lions offering to get involved.

Instead, the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River council last week voted to go ahead with an amended, but otherwise planned, renewal of the existing playground near Cowaramup Hall.

Cowaramup-based Cr David Binks was the sole vote against the plan.

The decision follows more than two years of agitation from Cowaramup residents and a 364-person petition lodged with the shire in October 2022.

But in making their call last Wednesday night, the council ultimately backed the cheaper project that fitted with their forward planning.

In her last meeting as a councillor, Paula Cristoffanini moved the renewal option she acknowledged was a tough decision for the council.

“It’s important for us to . . . think about our public open space and where they should be in a bigger context,” she said.

“Many options have been considered in arriving at this. This is a good outcome, I think, for the area and fits in with our responsibilities.”

Cr Cristoffanini noted the Cowaramup Hall playground already existed and the shire was obligated to fund its renewal.

The proposed Shire project cited “in-principle support for the inclusion of nature play elements”, and doubled the Cowaramup Hall project budget to $140,000.

The Shire report acknowledged “the many positive elements of the SW Capes Lions proposal, the strong community support for greater investment in playgrounds in Cowaramup, and the demographics of Cowaramup where there are a high proportion of families with children”.

However, it said the Lions’ proposal — designed to fill a perceived gap and cater to Parkwater residents as well as people living west of Bussell Highway — involved “a higher level of investment than similar playgrounds in the region”.

With the council signing off on the shire’s new public open space strategy at the same meeting, the odds were against residents’ pleas.

Amid the various reasons for the Pioneer Park push, residents said the notorious highway crossing was a factor to consider in how children would access any playground.

A shire investigation found accessibility and parking issues with the Pioneer Park site, including waterlogged areas in winter at the former dam site.

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