Enoggera Creek Sport and Recreation Precinct: District Plans Revealed
Date of Publication:
Friday, 26 March 2021
Council, Plans, Consultation
The suture of a sport's existence in Brisbane could be under threat if proposed changes to one of the city's biggest recreation precincts go ahead, according to one club.
Double-medal winning Olympian Stacey Porter has gone into bat for a Brisbane women's softball club which fears their sport may be at risk after Brisbane City Council draft plans proposed a massive reduction in their facilities.
Panthers Softball Club says proposed changes to Enoggera Creek Sports and Recreation Precinct that include relocating softball's "sentimental home” from Downey Park to reduced facilities at Finsbury Park could spell the end for their sport in inner-north Brisbane.
As a result, they are urging softball players to review the plans and provide feedback to the council before April 9.
"Brisbane City Council's plan includes a drastic change to Downey Park which includes removing softball from and replacing it with a 500-space car-park and building 2 synthetic fields for hockey," said club treasurer and secretary Leigh Martyn.
The venue is home to the Brisbane Softball Association which facilitates competition for eight local clubs including Panthers Softball which boasts a playing list including two Olympians Stacey Porter and Justine Smethurst, both of whom are in line for selection to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Ms Martyn encouraged all current users of the heritage-listed Downey Park women's sporting precinct to consider what the proposed plans mean for the future of women's sport, and softball in particular, as Brisbane's 2032 Olympic bid gathers attention.
"Downgrading the available softball facilities at Downey Park from 16 diamonds to three at the proposed new location, including demolishing Australia's first international level diamond, poses a very real risk that Brisbane Softball Association will no longer be able to support current player numbers and we will see a decrease in the numbers of young girls and women playing our game."
“Brisbane is a chance at hosting the 2032 Olympics and softball is a true contender for inclusion, a lack of international-standard facilities in our city's heart could result in games being played elsewhere or softball not being included as a sport at all.”
Porter, the current captain of the Australian Women's team the Aussie Spirit, says the proposal could be a blow for softball's inclusion for a potential home Olympic Games.
The Aussie Spirit is one of the most successful teams in Australian Olympic history having medalled at every Games the sport has been included in — Porter having won silver in 2004 and bronze in 2008.
"I was quite shocked when we found out we'd been pulled from the Olympic movement (in 2012).
"I certainly felt for all the kids and the up-and-comers; there is a chunk of people that fell off after that.
"We need to do everything we can to ensure softball continues in our community.
"Fighting to keep our existing facilities, or at least facilities of the same calibre as we have now, is essential to maintaining participation in softball."
Ms Martyn said it was vital people had their say on the current draft plan.
We need to maintain our facilities in Brisbane. By getting involved and having a say, we can secure softball's future by ensuring our youth continue to have access to watching and even playing side by side with players like Stacey, that is incredibly inspiring for young girls.
"Our sport is so unique in having Olympians and Australian representatives still actively competing in our local competition, (but) the proposed changes to Downey Park could see that never happen again.”
Meanwhile, Brisbane Softball Association (BSA) has been contacted for their thoughts on the matter.
Last week, they posted to their Facebook page to inform members about the draft plan.
"The BSA Board is working through the proposal and will be providing feedback," they said.
"In the mean time... everyone has an opportunity to provide constructive feedback, so feel free to make a submission.”
"In the mean time... everyone has an opportunity to provide constructive feedback, so feel free to make a submission."
Brisbane City Council's vision for the Enoggera Creek Sport and Recreation Precinct was released last week and it proposes some vast changes to the 52ha site's current format.
The draft precinct plan incorporates the stretch of land along Enoggera Creek from Northey St Park in Windsor to Spencer Park in Newmarket and has been divided into three key sub-precincts: West, Central and East.
It also includes a number of sporting facilities for baseball, softball, cricket, rugby, hockey, soccer, netball and tennis as well as the Northey Street City Farm.
The plan, aimed at enhancing the sport and recreation precinct and ensuring its longevity, "guides future investment, growth and management of this popular sport and recreation destination, guided by community feedback”.
The draft plan is now open to community feedback, and in its current form, would require several sporting groups to relocate or merge their facilities.
According to the council, sporting types would be co-located into the specific precincts, to allow for "optimum usage of all the fields/courts/diamonds across the entire precinct all year round".
The west precinct will offer a dedicated football precinct with both natural turf and synthetic fields which will raise current capacity by about 30 per cent, more car parking and doubling of recreation space.
Meanwhile, the central precinct will see baseball and softball relocate from Downey Park and merge to use one shared location at Finsbury Park.
The new baseball/softball site will increase playing field capacity and including a new clubhouse and batting cages.
A new playground will also be incorporated into the precinct, and the existing dog park at Northey St Park will be relocated here and include dedicated parking.
The East precinct, which is currently home to Downey Park Netball Association and QUT netball fixtures, will see roads realigned to improve connectivity and patron safety near the hard court precinct.
It will also include two new synthetic hockey fields, which will be elevated out of the notorious Downey Park floodplain, and 610 new car-parking spaces along with the relocation of cricket from Finsbury Park.
A new multi-purpose indoor sport and community centre, including dedicated space for table tennis will also be provided as well as two recreation parks including Windsor Sports and Community Park and Northey St Park.
Talk of the precinct plan has been in the works since 2016, with the council calling for suggestions back in 2018.
At the time, Downey Park Netball Association club president Michelle Prado echoed the thoughts of many parents who use the precinct — the need for more parking.
"On Saturdays, we have about 4500 people playing netball between 8am and 5pm, so parking is a premium,” Ms Prado said.
Cricket would be relocated from their home at Finsbury Park.
"Sometimes we have people driving around for 45 minutes to an hour looking for a car
Brisbane City Council had also been in talks with the owners of five flood-prone houses in an effort to purchase the properties and incorporate the land in the revamped precinct.
A community engagement period is currently underway, with local sporting clubs in the process of preparing their responses.
Newmarket cricket association Gold Crest, formed more than six decades ago and located at Finsbury Park (the proposed new home of softball), is also currently in talks about the proposal.