By ERWIN CHLANDA
The construction by the town council of a fenced dog run in Ross Park has been halted following protests by locals over lack of consultation.
Tall fence posts have already been put in place in the north-western section of the park as residents are complaining about drawn out but flawed communication.
They say a similar run in Braitling, apparently costing $140,000, is rarely if ever used and not properly maintained.
Dog owner Mary Menotti (pictured with Maya) says the Ross Park issues were first raised with the council in June 2021.
She says nothing was heard until February 8 this year when locals, including her, were informed that the matter would be put before the council’s Parks Advisory Committee on February 22.
CEO Robert Jennings claims a letter was subsequently sent to Ms Menotti but she says she has no recollection of receiving any correspondence.
Again nothing was heard for several months until a couple of weeks ago when the council put poles into the ground as a start to building a dog enclosure.
Ms Menotti, in consultation with other dog owners, requested work to stop which it was and the council has agreed to consult with the group.
Ms Menotti says the issues have an easy and cost-free solution: There is an off-lead time between 5am to 8am in Ross Park. She suggests add to that 5pm to 8pm, as it is in force in other local parks.
“It has been observed that few if indeed anyone is using the Rotaract dog park in Braitling, on which the Ross Park one is modelled.
“Grass is not watered, the fountain is not repaired, it is a white elephant,” she says.
Dog owners are “dumbfounded” that this inefficiency is now proposed to be repeated.
Illustration by Charlie Carter
Old Eastside resident Charlie Carter says a meeting last week was meant to be a community meeting but Deputy Mayor Eli Melky and CEO Robert Jennings “took over the meeting, and took it upon themselves to decide what could, or could not, be discussed.
“This was not conducive to effective consultation.”
Cr Melky, when asked to comment, said: “It was good to meet the people. I got a lot of information. We have some adjustments to make and I share some of their concerns.”
Says Dr Carter: “The important issue of what exactly was planned for the park, and why, was ruled out of order. This is, and was unsatisfactory,” says Dr Carter.
“It left the meeting of residents and dog owners in the ridiculous position of considering a proposed construction, the full nature of which was not being disclosed to them.
“A bit of basic evaluation of that previous construction [in Braitling] would have revealed that the dog runs in that park were a total failure, unused, and a waste of money.”
Dr Carter says the way the project was handled “sends the unfortunate message that council will not examine the obvious deficiencies in its processes that led to this expensive and avoidable boondoggle.”