Less than a month ago, Hamilton South residents were preparing to go into battle with the NSW Government.
But, regrettably, they lost the fight this week.
Despite their repeated pleas, and hundreds of signatures on a petition, locals watched in dismay as heavy machinery bulldozed their beloved playground to the ground.
The social housing community, along with Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp, launched a last-minute campaign to save the children’s facility on 23 February, after they found out the Neill Terrace site was earmarked for demolition.
Unfortunately for the public, it had not been maintained to a basic safety standard, allowing the government to tear it down without installing a replacement.
“It’s very sad,” local resident Janice Patterson said.
“The playground’s been here since the early 1970s.
“Even though it was upgraded in the 80s, it’s deteriorated over time.
“Now, it’s dangerous for kids – all because the government didn’t look after it.
“Children were getting caught in the equipment; or tripping over on the uneven surface.
“It was a very popular area but the government is replacing it with turf.”
Mr Crakanthorp raised his concerns, too, with issues including grossly undulated and torn softfall; poor accessibility for those with low mobility; and missing or broken elements.
“The cost of a new playground is a drop in the ocean, possibly $50,000, compared to what they’ve [government] made selling off social housing property,” he said.
“In this case of demolition by neglect, rather than replace the broken and unsafe elements, the government has shamefully chosen to destroy this community infrastructure.”
The destruction came only a day after Mr Crakanthorp delivered a Notice of Motion in the NSW Parliament calling on the government to protect the playground.
“There are 1000 people in this estate with a significant number on aged or disability pensions,” he said.
“Asking them to walk close to a kilometre with their children or grandchildren to another facility is not a solution.
“In the past decade, this government has netted more than $50 million flogging off social housing properties in Newcastle.
“And, it’s a disgrace that they can’t find the cash to replace a dilapidated playground in a disadvantaged community.
“Whether they are in private, affordable or social housing, everyone deserves access to community infrastructure and while this playground may be going away, I certainly won’t be.”