South Melbourne park a ‘vagrant magnet’

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PORT PHILLIP council has spent more than $1.25 million creating a park in the backstreets of South Melbourne which has been branded a waste of money and a magnet for vagrants.

The park, in Emerald Hill Place behind the Clarendon Street shops, can’t be seen from the street and many residents and traders are unaware of its existence.

Ratepayers questioned the council on its rationale for creating the park at last week’s council meeting, claiming the secluded area would attract drug dealing and illicit activity.

The park is in a former car park at 25 to 36 Emerald Hill Place, previously owned by the Department of Human Services. The council bought the 18-space car park for $1.25 million last September and has spent $20,000 converting it into a park, with synthetic grass, park benches and a table tennis table.

On two separate visits to the park, RL witnessed a dishevelled man asleep on one of the benches.

Port Phillip mayor Amanda Stevens said the park was a temporary installation and community consultation would be undertaken to determine the future of the site, with a view to creating a permanent park. She said the council had not received any reports of vagrants in the park.

“With increased density of residential development in the city, the provision of open space is critical for liveability,” Cr Stevens said.

“We utilise as much available space as possible to provide a wide range of open space opportunities for the community and this includes road closures in Foote Street, medians within roads in Danks Street, and parks off laneways in Ashworth Street.”

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