Marino resident Barry had a birthday wish that was dear to his heart - to preserve the open space on the western side of...
McConnell Reserve is a unique, elevated, level council reserve in the City of Marion in the coastal suburb of Marino. As one of the highest points in Marino it has unparalleled views over the ocean and the city of Adelaide. With suburban infill and population increasing throughout our suburbs, the preservation of open space is ever more important and once lost can never be replaced.
On repeated occasions over the last 10 years the Council have actively campaigned to sell off the western portion of McConnell Reserve due to its redundancy under their open space policy and criteria. The local Hilltop Hub @McConnell (previously Friends of McConnell) and the 5049 Coastal Community, as custodians of this unique council reserve on behalf of the community in general, have campaigned for the preservation and improvement of the whole Reserve for over 30 years.
The reserve is split into eastern and western sections by a local minor street with little traffic. The east side has been improved by council and proves very popular. The western side, long considered redundant by council, is still forlorn and neglected. Over the years Marion Council have repeatedly refused to upgrade the whole reserve and have undertaken only minor maintenance up until 2021 when they completed a major upgrade to the Eastern side following community campaigns and consultation with the Council. You can view photos and information about the upgrade on the Marino Council’s website.
The local Friends have actively maintained and improved the reserve with endorsement from Council. They have successfully negotiated for in kind support from Boral, the owners of the adjoining quarry (mine). Once the whole reserve was a thriving netball/tennis hub with toilets and change rooms with its green space and adjoining basketball court. Over time the maintenance of the reserve declined other than by local residents and Council’s policy changed to centralise club facilities. The changing rooms and toilets were removed.
Over the last 5 years there have been 3 attempts by Council to sell off the Western portion. Each time based on community campaigns those attempts were deferred by Council in light of the high level of community backlash and interest in an integration of the two sides.
At the 2021 review the resolution was to defer a decision on the sale of the Western portion pending the successful upgrade of the Eastern side by Xmas 2021 and its full evaluation before a Council meeting in February 2022. It was clear to the Friends and the Association that this was too soon to assess the impact on visitations and the potential for the western side to be retained and enhanced as part of an integrated whole. The council agreed and deferred the decision until a council meeting in February 2023.
A couple of sensors have been placed on the site to monitor activity via picking up mobile phones. Beyond that we are unaware of the evaluation methodology Council have put in place to assess the impact of the improvements? Anecdotally the visitations have increased according to local residents.