By Steph McNicol –
AN online petition to build a dirt jump track in Doreen for teenage riders has gained more than 1000 signatures after their track was bulldozed by council.
The group had taken it upon themselves to build a track for ‘advanced riders’ with dirt jumps at Hill Top Park, something they said they couldn’t do at a skate park.
City of Whittlesea council bulldozed the jumps on two occasions due to safety concerns and the environmental impact to the grassland.
Mother of one of the teenagers, Linda Jablonski, said allowing the group to build the ramps gave them a positive way to spend their time outdoors during COVID-19.
Ms Jablonski’s son Noah, 13, decided he would email council to ask for some jumps built in Doreen, but he was told funding was going to a track of a similar build in Whittlesea.
“It’s good that they’re building them in Whittlesea, but how are these kids meant to get there? I’m happy to drive my son, but not every day,” Ms Jablonski said.
“And it is something they want to do every day. Noah said ‘I’m going to go build’, so he and some of his friends went to Hill Top Park and started building ramps in a shrubby area with some trees.
“When they started building, some other kids joined them and started building too. They try do it at different times because of COVID-19, they just ride and jump and have fun.”
The group of riders had been building the jumps for about eight weeks.
Ms Jablonski said there had been some smaller jumps at the same location for quite a long time before they began building.
She said the teenagers were ‘disheartened’ when council bulldozed the jumps last week, and again on Monday when the riders had begun to rebuild.
“Building the ramps has just been innocent fun for them, people probably think we’re horrible parents, but I used to build cubby houses too,” Ms Jablonski said.
Receiving more than 900 signatures online was just the beginning for the group, after being told they needed a handwritten submission for consideration by council.
“After speaking with someone from council, the recommendation was to get a petition going, but an online one won’t be accepted,” Ms Jablonski said.
“We’re hoping the petition will mean council will work with the kids, give them some land to build the jumps legitimately.
“We’re hoping people will sign the actual paper and there are a few petitions around Doreen.”
Council acting chief executive Joe Carbone said council supported young people enjoying and experiencing open spaces.
“However, it is our duty to the whole community that safety and access is maintained at all times for everyone,” he said.
“The scale of the dirt jumps has gradually increased over time, and with this has come significant environmental impact to the grassland.
“Council has engaged with the Doreen community on a number of occasions in recent times, explaining the hazard that these dirt jumps create and asking for them to be removed from public open space.
“We are working with the young people, and their families, involved in building these dirt jumps.
“We are open to exploring a new outdoor activity that has input from the Doreen community.”
Ms Jablonski said people wanting to sign the petition can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign the petition here: https://bit.ly/2MkRJ8u