Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has thrown his support behind local sporting groups using Johnson Park at Gordonvale after they were recently asked to consider relocating to a proposed future venue.

Mr Pitt said that Cairns Regional Council convened a meeting on 22 June to gauge the views of groups currently using Johnson Park.

“I can tell you – the groups using Johnson Park were unanimous – they want to stay put,” Mr Pitt said.

“Cairns Regional Council has proposed that the groups which comprise Mulgrave Athletics, Mulgrave Cricket, Gordonvale Netball, Suburbs Junior Rugby League and South’s Junior Soccer relocate to a proposed future venue on land formerly farmed by the Prestipino and Pueleo families.

“I have no problem with Council developing new facilities – in fact I lobbied for the previous state government to hand over land to the Council at no cost to ensure the future development of the Alley Park Sporting Precinct.

“Gordonvale is a fast growing area and we need all the sporting infrastructure we can get in the southern corridor, but Johnson Park should remain where it is and new groups should be offered the proposed new facilities.

“A this stage it has not been properly set out why Council want groups to vacate Johnson Park, or if current facilities at Johnson Park will be replaced ‘like for like – hinting that groups may have to share facilities.”

Mr Pitt said he was unclear as to why Cairns Regional Council felt it was necessary to close down Johnson Park.

“Having recently witnessed similar moves for Down Park at Edmonton I am a bit suspicious that this may be to provide some more residential land, although it would seem there is more than enough land for residential development in the area.

“I strongly urge Cairns Regional Council to listen to the views of Gordonvale sporting groups and continue to support and maintain Johnson Park – including a concrete plan to upgrade lighting at the venue which has been promised by successive councils.”

Mr Pitt said Johnson Park was built on community effort when it came about in the mid-1980s when there was a desperate shortage of sports grounds in Gordonvale to match the growing population.

“The former Mulgrave Shire Council under Tom Pyne made available a piece of land that was formerly a rubbish tip, with a portion under assignment for cane.

“Community members accepted the challenge to develop the open space and formed an association that later became the Johnson Park Development Association Inc.

“Through working bees over several months the land was levelled and grassed – it was a massive community effort with labour and machinery supplied by the community.

“Clubs such as Mulgrave Athletics, Gordonvale Netball, Souths Soccer and Suburbs Junior Rugby League combined their efforts to put in place necessary playing facilities.

“The Mulgrave Shire Council constructed a toilet block and clubrooms and later council added lights for the netball courts.”