Lake Macquarie City Council releases picture of playground equipment for Rathmines Park

COMING SOON: An artist's impression of the new playground equipment that is currently under construction for Rathmines Park. Artwork: Supplied
COMING SOON: An artist's impression of the new playground equipment that is currently under construction for Rathmines Park. Artwork: Supplied

LAKE Macquarie City Council has released artwork depicting the new playground equipment currently under construction for Rathmines Park.

The new apparatus will replace the $50,000 playground destroyed by vandals in an arson attack in July.

The new playground is slated for installation next month.

“Council recognises the significance of the Rathmines Park playground to the local community and has fast-tracked the replacement of equipment following the disappointing arson attack in late July,” a spokesperson for the council said.

“The new equipment for Rathmines Park is currently being manufactured and installation is scheduled for early October. It will be similar to the equipment it is replacing.”

Council staff and the community were saddened and angered by the arson attack on what was considered the premier playground in the Westlakes district.

Some residents took to social media to vent their fury, describing the offenders as “low-life scum” and “idiots”.

Others called for increased security measures, and questioned why council had ordered campers at the park to move on. Locals felt that the campers provided a presence that was likely to have deterred vandals.

THE ORIGINAL: The three-tiered playground equipment destroyed in an arson attack in July. Council has fast-tracked its replacement. Picture: Supplied

THE ORIGINAL: The three-tiered playground equipment destroyed in an arson attack in July. Council has fast-tracked its replacement. Picture: Supplied

A council spokesperson said complaints had been made about illegal campers in Rathmines Park in 2016, and sporadically before that.

“Camping, including motorhome stopovers, is prohibited at recreation facilities in Lake Macquarie. Signage exists in these areas outlining prohibited activities,” the spokesperson said.

Rangers approached the owners of the offending vehicles and asked them to move on, and provided information on legal camping sites in the city.

Overnight camping wasn’t always prohibited at Rathmines.

“Between 2005 and 2009, council trialled overnight stays for campervans and motorhomes at two locations throughout the city, Rathmines and Myuna Bay. Following a review of the trial in 2009, council resolved not to implement this initiative,” the spokesperson said.

The ongoing closure of the neighbouring 1st Rathmines Scout Hall due to asbestos concerns was also seen as a weakening in the network of protective eyes on the park.

Council reports the hall is close to being reopened.

“Asbestos has been cleared from the main hall, kitchen and amenities area and council has this week received a Clearance Certificate deeming it safe for re-occupancy,” they said.

“Some minor maintenance is still to be done but council will meet with the Scouts in the next few weeks to discuss a timetable for them to move back into the building.”

PEACEFUL: Council has explained why campers were moved on at Rathmines Park - a move that locals say weakened security in the park. Picture: David Stewart

PEACEFUL: Council has explained why campers were moved on at Rathmines Park - a move that locals say weakened security in the park. Picture: David Stewart