By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Bunjil Place’s only undercover car park has been closed to the public, just two months after the venue opened.
The 85-space basement car park with a lift has been solely used by Casey councillors and staff since a Christmas period announcement on 28 December.
It has led to concerns that visitors will have to brave the elements from car parks more than 100 metres away.
Leanne Petrides, a member of Casey’s access and inclusion advisory committee, said some visitors with disabilities may be not able to access the venue as a result.
“The lack of undercover, lift-accessible disabled parking will not just be a disappointment but could in fact mean the exclusion of people from accessing a beautiful facility.”
Ms Petrides said she had concerns for her elderly mother walking on rain-sodden surfaces to get to the venue.
Her mother relies on disabled parking and is generally a “bit unsteady on her feet”.
“Had the weather been atrocious, our visits would have been a nightmare,” Ms Petrides said.
“She’d be more reluctant to walk out in the rain if the surface is wet.”
Casey city design and construction manager Trevor Griffin said the car park was closed due to security concerns, altered operational plans and stakeholder feedback.
“Customers told us they wanted more convenient, short-term outdoor spaces closer to the entrances of Casey ARC and Bunjil Place.
“This led to a considerable number of council fleet vehicles being relocated into the basement car park and to the Max Pawsey Reserve.”
The nearest disabled parking bays are 22 all-day spaces are located “as close as possible” to Bunjil and Casey ARC’s entrances, such as the Magid Drive car park.
It should be noted that the car park still requires crossing Patrick North East Drive.
The parking area’s digital signage includes specific information on accessible parking space availability, Mr Griffin said.
Resident Andrew Spreckley said the basement car park may have been under-utilised because its back-side entrance was so hard to find.
“There was no signage regarding where the car park was located.
“I was confused and I have found myself in and out of some mysterious places in the world.”
He said the parking changes seemed to benefit councillors, rather than the public.
“When it’s raining they don’t’ get wet going to work.
“The councillors’ cars won’t be so hot to get into in summertime.
“The councillors will not be subject to being fined.
“What about disabled patrons or elderly bored at home on dreary rainy days that want to feel better connected to their community?”
Mr Spreckley said it was “absolutely illogical” that security plans were only being considered after Bunjil’s opening in late October.
“The community are not stupid and neither are designers. This is just a psychological game being played with the community.”