Time called on basketball courts as developers move in
Residents have expressed dismay after watching bulldozers and cyclone fence contractors move in on their beloved basketball courts at Boyd Park and another across the road.
Demolition of the half court at Boyd Park – which only opened temporarily two years ago as part of a new neighbourhood park – took place in late November as work began on a contested 42-storey development at the western edge of Boyd Park.
The other, a full court on Queensbridge Street opposite Boyd Park, was also recently dug up to make way for a hotel and residential development – another blow to weary urban eyes.
The development at the rear of the former JH Boyd Girls’ School site, which will eventually deliver new recreational facilities, was endorsed by the City of Melbourne in December 2020 despite attracting 128 objections.
“The closest [basketball court] is now at MSAC at Albert Park but it’s not for local kids. You have to pay fees,” Adrian Kidd, a newcomer to the Boyd Park area, told Southbank News.
Mr Kidd outlined his concerns at the City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne Committee meeting on November 22, which was held at Freshwater Place.
“This issue is that we have one and a half basketball courts at the moment. Shortly we will have none,” he said.
“Two street courts in Southbank are what the kids need. The same as they need that new playground (on Southbank Boulevard), which has been such a great success.”
Others addressed the meeting saying they would see up to 20 people on the half court at Boyd Park at any one time.
“This area is great,” one local said, who has been living nearby for 12 years. “It’s a green oasis in an area full of towers.” Now the only park in the area has tragically been cut in half.
The issue of public space and development has so dominated the local politics of this densely populated area, that locals can’t help but lick old wounds.
“There used to be a height limit of 100 metres,” another said, pointing at the towers to the east of Boyd Park.
“Once a precedent is set, forget it.”
At the council meeting, Lord Mayor Sally Capp responded to community concerns about the loss of a concept for the construction of a proposed new basketball court in the undercroft of Kingsway.
“Negotiations with the Department of Transport are ongoing, and council will provide an update on the timing once finalised,” she said.
“While those negotiations are ongoing, work on the design for the northern undercroft adjacent to City Rd has progressed.”
“Council will be looking for community feedback in the new year and once we get through selection, we can return with gusto to those negotiations. It is important to note that this is owned by the Department of Transport and council will need to get the appropriate occupation terms for the space.”
A designer from the City of Melbourne spoke to Mr Kidd over the phone to discuss the issue. Mr Kidd’s son works for the Melbourne United Basketball League, but he claims to be no expert himself, just a fresh pair of eyes on the problem.
“It’s a bit noisy and dirty,” Mr Kidd said, about the undercroft site, but the designer assured him there would be enough light between the roads to grow plants.
Mr Kidd is from Mildura and was shocked at what could be squeezed into an urban landscape that is now used as a carriageway to the back of the casino.
“The last time I was here two guys were racing each other on yellow scooters,” he said.
Locals say the undercroft basketball idea was first mooted five years ago, among others which included a plan to demolish the garden in front of the Boyd Community Centre.
“We stopped them from doing that,” they said.
“All I’m looking for are a couple of street basketball courts, no building, no lighting, no air-conditioning, just somewhere young people especially can throw hoops … shoot hoops,” Mr Kidd told council. “All you need is a floor, a fence and two loops.” •
Caption 1: Adrian Kidd tackling the problem of basketball courts.
Caption 2: The proposed new basketball site beneath Kings Way.