Ash Wednesday Park renewal

By Steph McNicol

TWO Macedon Ranges Shire councillors expressed their concern for the disturbance of a sacred space if an Ash Wednesday Park draft masterplan was to be adopted.

Councillors gathered via a Zoom conference call on Friday to discuss plans to upgrade the Macedon park during their special meeting.

The master plan detailed council plan priorities to upgrade the park over the next 10 to 20 years, including renovations to the playground, picnic area and carpark with the addition of an open lawn area and building a stage and multipurpose platform area.

Other plans include memorial information signage, creek restoration plans and native feature planning.

Council undertook community consultation where people were informed of the renewal plans and given the opportunity to submit their thoughts.

In support of adopting the plan, Cr Mandi Mees said the plan was carefully facilitated and led by the organisation.

“The plan captured the spirit of the community to deliver in its town. Many ideas were presented, and it started very grand,” Cr Mees said.

“It became clear the importance of the natural environment, natural vegetation and the use of the park to the community.

“Ash Wednesday is at the heart of every resident and there is a tree lit every night at the park. But there are different views from different generations, people bring along their children, and the purpose has slightly changed.

“It can become an active space, and one the community wants to use. It won’t destroy the memorial environment, we just want to improve the amenity.”

Cr Helen Radnedge expressed her concern for the lack of community support for the current draft master plan.

“I’m concerned about the master plan, three of the seven submissions talk about the over-development of a small site,” Cr Radnedge said.

“Someone said it was Ash Wednesday Park, not Luna Park. People are concerned of its importance as a memorial place, it is a place of quiet contemplation.”

In agreeance with Cr Radnedge, Cr Jennifer Anderson said there were split answers in the submissions.

“We had multiple forms of consultation, and what we have is two councillors who went to the [walking tour of the park],” Cr Anderson said.

“We have split answers with the submissions. We have people saying the park needs a flying fox and to get on with it, and others who see it as a quiet place of memorial.

“I would endorse it if we could find a compromise with issues of concern from the community… it is something we need to consider.”

Council adopted the master plan with five councillors in support while Cr Radendge and Cr Anderson voted against.