Seymour's oldest park is under threat.By Chalpat Sonti
Time is running out for Seymour’s most central park — and it’s oldest cemetery — and it is in drastic need of public support to survive.
Pioneer Park in Crawford St has had its issues before, but had been maintained by the Seymour Cemetery Trust thanks to a special grant from the Mitchell Shire Council.
That was about 10 years ago. Since then the cost of maintenance has become higher, not helped by repairing problems caused by vandalism, and that has depleted the trust’s funds to an unacceptably low level. It also has to fund an expansion of the Kobyboyn Rd cemetery while at Pioneer Park the irrigation system is nearing replacement and some of the trees are old or diseased.
It has sought financial help, firstly from the council. However the council advised the trust to seek alternate funding sources. One of those was the Department of Health — which turned the trust’s request down.
‘‘Then we were told by the council that the grant (for Pioneer Park) won’t be forthcoming any more,’’ trust secretary Ken Daniel said.
‘‘We wanted Mitchell Shire or Department of Health to take over the running of the park but both said ‘no’, they weren’t interested.’’
Trust chairman Ron Fullerton said ‘‘when the current grant runs out, that will be it’’.
‘‘We’ve only got eight trustees, they’re all volunteers and we have to focus our efforts on the (Kobyboyn Rd cemetery),’’ he said.
The trust only has enough money to continue maintaining the park — first established as a cemetery in 1857 and which held burials until 1972 — until early in the New Year.
It has written to local service clubs to see if they can help with maintenance, but also wants to set up a Friends of Pioneer Park organisation.
‘‘I would love to see people working down here and I’m sure they’ll get some enjoyment out of it,’’ Mr Fullerton said.
Mitchell Shire Council community and recreation director Travis Heeney said a recent review of grant arrangements highlighted that the council had taken on a State Government responsibility through providing the Pioneer Park grant.
‘‘Pioneer Park is located on Crown land, and it operates under the mandate of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act,’’ he said.
‘‘The management of the site is a direct arrangement between the Seymour Cemetery Trust and the Department of Health.
Through this review, council identified that its funding was being used in place of the Seymour Cemetery Trust applying for grants through the Department of Health.’’
In 2012-13 the grant was $3376, upped to $3444 for this financial year.
‘‘From 2014-15 the Trust will be supported to apply for grants through the Department of Health for park maintenance, with the capacity of also sourcing funding through (the) council’s community funding program,’’ Mr Heeney said.
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