Yarraville locals take on Maribyrnong council over proposed stadium on McIvor Reserve

“We don’t have much space, we don’t have much tree cover. That’s where our canopy is. If you go there, that’s where all the birds live. That’s where all the shade is,” she said.

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Liby said the council’s stadium strategy indicated the facility could have as many as six courts and 320 car parks. She said a stadium of that size would take up about 14,000 square meters of space, about the size of 30 house blocks.

“That’s how much of the park would be gone. And there’s really just not much actual parkland that’s left there,” she said.

The council has said that an indoor stadium at McIvor Reserve was only “an idea, not a proposal” and that it was gathering feedback from people who use the park before making any further decisions.

At a council meeting this week, Maribyrnong City chief executive Celia Haddock said no determination had been made on the stadium’s design or location.

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“I again reiterate that no decision has been made on McIvor Reserve. Council is simply investigating it as an option,” she said.

However, Liby said that she believed there was more going on behind the scenes than the council was willing to reveal.

She highlighted opposition to plans for Melbourne Victory to build a soccer academy at Footscray Park and the Yarraville “Arab Spring” parking meter saga as other examples of poor consultation by the council.

“They are not high schoolers that are cramming for an exam that are going to pull it out at the last moment,” she said.

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“They’re not being transparent about so many things, which leaves the community with very little confidence that they’re being forthcoming with us about what’s really going on.”

Barbara Hart, who has lived in a house overlooking the park for 16 years, said she was concerned.

“Why aren’t they looking at disused industrial sites in the area? There’s a lot of them and the council could be looking to purchase that sort of land,” she said.

“We all acknowledge that there needs to be more basketball and netball courts, but not at the expense of green open space.”

Another resident, Kylie Michel, said the COVID-19 lockdowns had demonstrated the importance of having open space close to where you live.

She said the western suburbs were often identified as an area with a shortage of tree cover and green space.

“It’s such a beautiful space, but we know once it’s taken away, it can be lost forever,” she said.

An online community forum to discuss the McIvor Reserve master plan will be held by Maribyrnong City Council on August 8.

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