Car park chaos


By Emma Xerri

Currently sharing their carpark with the area’s other facilities, the Timbarra Community Centre are hoping measures can be put in place to safeguard some spots for their patrons, who are struggling to benefit from the centre’s many enriching services.

Located off Parkhill Drive, just next door to Monash Health, Windermere Family Services and Headstart Early Learning Centre, parking for Community Centre staff and patrons has been a consistent struggle, with insufficient spaces to currently accommodate those visiting them and the neighbouring facilities.

For Centre Manager Kim Peterson, this is especially concerning for the centre’s senior attendees, who use the activities provided as a “lifeline.”

“You might think it’s just a knitting group or a gardening group or whatever it may be, but this is a lifeline for a lot of people,” she said.

“We live in the City of Casey where we’re increasingly trying to support the ageing population, and look at what we can do to keep them interacting to support their longevity and wellbeing.

“Attending these groups could be the most significant part of their day, and if you’ve had to turn away because you couldn’t find accessible parking, then a little thing becomes a big thing.”

Unfortunately for these senior patrons, who look to the weekly activities as a much needed social avenue, the inaccessible car park has meant many have been unable to return.

“If there’s overflow from the other facilities, they take up a lot of our carpark too,” Ms Peterson added.

“So much so that by the time we’re ready to start some of our activities, there’s no substantial parking left for people.

“This has resulted, in the past, with some people not returning because the car park is too hard to access, which is a real shame.

“And it’s hard when you’re getting there at half past eight some days and there’s already no car parks.

“I do my best to get to the centre early to put out witches hats to provide some space for our mobility-limited patrons, but it’s frustrating when you know people want to attend our services but are at stages of their life that will make doing so a struggle.

“The whole concept of a neighbourhood house is to create social inclusion.”

Regular knitting group attendee and carer, Monica, notes that in order for her to bring her client to the weekly knitting group, this often requires her parking three blocks away.

“I’m a carer for Victoria, and it’s very hard for her to walk three blocks to the centre,” she said.

“Otherwise I would have to drop her off and leave her here alone while I park, which is not very safe.

“Most of the people who come to these groups are older people with various health issues, so it would be nice if there were some signs around encouraging healthier patrons to leave the closer car parks for less abled people. Or even if we could get permission to park on the grass, because we get fined if we do.

“Of course, people from other facilities have the right to park here, it’s not illegal. But they have to be more considerate.”

This sentiment was shared by fellow knitting group attendee Glynis, who proposes that seniors parking signage could be used as a potential solution.

“Maybe that would trigger their conscience,” she said.

But for Ms Peterson and the centre’s many attendees, there is no single path forward, rather an underlying hope that greater awareness will allow for some measures to be put in place.

“In a perfect world, we would extend the car park. However, I don’t think that’s likely,” she added.

“So the other option is timed parking, which I don’t think will make anyone happy. It will never be the right amount of time for people, and it will be hard to monitor. And what if there are people who attend our facility and want to stay for more than one thing?

“Other facilities have set aside parking for their patrons, so maybe we could have some parks that are dedicated for neighbourhood house attendees.

“There must be a better way for us to work harmoniously.

“We want all services to be accommodated. We’re not just rattling our cages saying ‘it’s all about me.’ I know there are parents who would struggle getting their kids to Windermere Family Services, same too with the kindergarten if you have parents trying to drop multiple kids off.

“The Berwick Neighbourhood Centre is for everyone. We’re not trying to upset anyone, we really just want to make it so that the community has a fair ability to get to these services and activities that we wish to provide.”