Image: Image: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras / Facebook.
By EVA BAXTER
Inner West Council voted to grant Marrickville golf club a 21-year lease.
The decision follows an intense and ongoing debate over the use of dwindling public land.
The inner west has one of the lowest ratios of public green space per resident in Sydney with 789 residents for every hectare of public space.
President of the club Andrew Tighe told the Independent he is sympathetic to the argument about the need for public space.
The club’s Plan of Management (PoM) was accepted by council and aims to address some of these concerns by encouraging the sharing of space and for the parklands and golf course to continue to become an integral part of the recreation and biodiversity fabric of the inner west LGA.
According to the PoM, over the last 5 years Marrickville Golf Club membership has dropped from 409 members to 368 members in 2017-2018.
The Council’s Recreation Needs Study found overall 5.5% of inner west adults play golf, 9.2% of males and 1.9% of females.
Hole in none
Nicola Huber-Smith a 21-year-old environmental scientist spoke against the 21-year lease to council.
She told the Independent, “the club’s proposal did not sit right with me, when so many people would benefit from an extra 12.5 hectares of remediated public space with lots of public facilities.”
She wrote to the council and received a reply from Greens councillor Colin Hesse who put forward a proposal for a lease of just seven years, which was defeated by council.
“The final decision has shown me that half of the council cares more about the very few golf players and the club over the entire inner west community,” said Huber-Smith.
“The decision will personally affect me until I am 42 years old, will stop any naturalisation of this area and will likely stop many in community from being able to use it, if not just for the risk of being hit by a golf ball.”
She said the PoM outlines little change to the way the club has always been run.
“They’ve just stated they’ll do things that they should have already been doing as a community organisation.
“They are getting so much of what the inner west community desperately needs at this time, with no quotas, barely any enforcement and 50% rent reduction. In my mind, it is not fair on the community who will be the ones supplementing them and receiving no benefits in return.”
Tighe said the club is happy about the council’s decision.
“We don’t have time to celebrate, we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“The idea that it’s a bunch of privileged golfers, that argument is delivered only by people who haven’t been there, they don’t realise that it’s a community club, yes we play golf there’s no doubt about that, but we enjoy sharing the space with the community,” he said.