Plea to fence playground
CHERIE Stroud feels 'nauseas' when she visits the children's playground by the Richmond River at Fawcett Park in Ballina's CBD.
The Ballina stay-at-home mum of two fears that one day a child will run the 15 metres from the playground to the river wall and fall down the drop of nearly 2m into the water or onto the rocks below which are exposed at low tide.
But she's doing something about her fear she has started collecting signatures on a petition calling for Ballina Shire Council to build a fence around the park.
Cherie, who has lived in Ballina for four years, walks to the park with her 18-month-old toddler, Chelsea, and her eight-week-old baby, Caitlin, about three times a week. It's time out of the house for Cherie and her children, but she said the water was too attractive to toddlers for her to be able to relax.
"I love bringing Chelsea here, but at the same time I feel like you're constantly like a hawk. You can't sit down there's no way," she said.
"And everyone's trying to look out for each other. "Mums can't talk among themselves there's no way you can enjoy the social side."
She said her call for a fence in no way 'compromised the responsibility of the parents'.
"But it only takes a minute of my younger one crying and me bending down to see if she's ok and the other child can run off," she said.
"Little toddlers they are so fast." She said children were able to crawl under the small barricade, with plants, around the river side and western side of the playground, and played on them as if they were part of the playground.
"People aren't going to look at it (a fence) and say it's ugly; people are going to look at it and say 'this is good it's safe'," she said.
Cherie collected about 40 signatures on the first day she petitioned parents last week. This is not the first time there has been a call to build a fence around the playground at the CBD park.
After the opening of Fawcett Park in 2004, a petition was handed to council asking that a fence be built. Council employed a consultant to assess the risk, and made the decision not to fence the playground based on the expert's recommendations.
But Cherie said it didn't matter what an expert thought, the lack of a fence was still a major talking point among the parents who took their young children to the playground.
She said parents formed a human chain on the river side of the park to stop toddlers running towards the river.
Cherie laughed at the idea that building a fence around the playground would create liability issues for council, and other riverfront areas would then need to be fenced. Three other playgrounds near the water in Ballina aren't fenced at Missingham Park, Commemoration Park and Meldrum Park.
But Cherie said those playgrounds were sited further from the water than the Fawcett Park playground.
The petition is available for signing at: Summerland Sports, River Street; Polka Dott clothing shop in the Ramada Riverside; the Northern Rivers Animal Services op shop in River Street; and Copy That in River Street. Cherie will be at Fawcett Park tomorrow, August 24, at noon.