Residents call for security measures to deter vandals at Rathmines | photos

RESIDENTS are calling on Lake Macquarie City Council to boost security in Rathmines Park in the wake of the vandalism that destroyed the town’s $50,000 playground.

As council pushes ahead with plans to fast-track the replacement of the three-tiered playground by October, nervous locals fear a repeat of the vandalism that saw the play equipment set alight.

Some residents are advocating lockable fencing, and the installation of closed-circuit TV cameras in the park.

“Come on Lake Macquarie City Council, let's get this rebuilt ASAP - maybe security cameras could help or a perimeter fence that is locked at night and reopened each morning,” resident John Pritchard said on Facebook.

Others think the security measures, especially the fencing, would ruin the amenity of the park.

Longtime resident Kasey Cousins said the best security measure the council could implement would be to re-open the 1st Rathmines Scout Hall and Rathmines Community Hall.

Both halls were closed when council detected asbestos in the buildings.

The scout hall has been closed since January. It is fenced off and the locks have been changed.

In May, Ms Cousins told the Lakes Mail about her concerns for the “undesirables” that had begun to frequent the park since the hall’s closure.

“It is a security issue, and we’re usually in there three nights a week with the lights on,” she said at the time.

The recent vandalism was inevitable, she said.

“This is what happens when you take the presence out of the park at night,” she  said.

“They [council] moved the vans out as well as the scouts. Sadly it was only a matter of time...”

A spokesperson for the council said the scout hall was expected to reopen by the end of August.

Hazardous materials were expected to be removed from the community hall by September, they said.

“Remediation works and cleaning of equipment is under way and the scout hall is expected to re-open by the end of the month,” the spokesperson said.

Rathmines Community Hall, meanwhile, will receive an overhaul while it is being made safe.

Council is using the closure of the building as an opportunity to refurbish the facility. 

The proposed improvements include upgrading amenities such as an accessible toilet; accessibility parking and access; and the inclusion of audio/lighting equipment.

The design and tender process for the upgrade is expected to be completed this financial year, with construction expected to take place next financial year.