Vandalism damages community asset

Graeme George, Gart Butler and Karen Garth (left to right) checked out the vandalism site in Coronation Park. Picture: DONGYUN KWON

By Dongyun Kwon

Improper actions including illegal fire pits, graffiti on trees and tree cuttings were discovered along the Watts River in Coronation Park in Healesville.

Healesville Environment Watch Inc (HEWI) secretary Karen Garth said she was alerted about it by a council bushland officer who maintains the area.

“It is a concern to us because for over 30 years, many groups in the community, including every school in Healesville and the CFA, have been revegetating the area along the Watts River in particular to look after our local platypus,” she said.

“We have some people coming in creating illegal fire pits, cutting down live trees and using dead vegetation as their firewood, leaving some litter and also repeatedly painting on some of the trees nearby.”

One of the community groups involved in the revegetation of Coronation Park is the Healesville Lions Club.

The club has been involved in the betterment of the park for over 30 years, covering expenses for vegetation, bridges, paths and rotunda.

Healesville Lions Club secretary Gart Butler said he was very disappointed.

“A lot of people come here walking the dogs and enjoying the beautiful park we have in the community and all the community groups are working together as a combined group for the betterment of the park,” he said.

“People, who vandalised the park like this, don’t respect all our efforts to make a better community.”

Mount Toolebewong and District Landcare president Graeme George said it’s a lack of appreciation of the value of having a nice patch of vegetation for people to walk through.

“Birdlife protects the riverbank, which in turn protects the platypus, generally creates a nice environment,” he said.

“It’s great for people to be able to utilise it and picnic in the area if they do the right thing and don’t make any disturbance.

“Cutting down trees opens up the area and all the different weeds come in, that’s going to create another problem.”

Ms Garth said she wanted people to be aware of the dangerousness of the vandalism as the Fire Danger Period would start on 18 December in the Yarra Ranges area.

“A smoking fire pit was found a couple of weeks ago,” she said.

“People should not be burning along the creek at all.

“We don’t mind them popping into the bush to have a quiet drink or a snack with friends, but we just don’t want the vandalism to continue.”