Children watched on as their “handball court” was dug up on Thursday morning. (Supplied: Marie)
A concrete slab used by local children for handball in a small Brisbane park has been ripped up just months after it was laid, all because some local residents complained about the noise.
The park, located in the Kelvin Grove Urban Village in Brisbane’s north, is popular with primary school-aged children who live in nearby high-rise apartments, and the smooth concrete surface has been a welcome addition to their playtime.
But Brisbane City Council (BCC) said the slab was never intended to be used for handball and was to be moved to another park following the complaints.
Local resident Col Dorber told ABC Radio Brisbane children played in the park every day.
“You hear the sound every day and in the evening of children laughing and playing. They’re even better than the sounds that birds can make,” Mr Dorber said.
The concrete slab, intended for a table tennis table, was only laid three months ago. (ABC News)
He said the concrete slab, measuring four metres by five metres, had only been installed for three months.
It was removed at about 7:00am on Thursday by two excavators and five workers.
“The concrete’s gone, and there’s half a dozen children here all asking us, ‘What’s going on, what happened to our handball court?'” Mr Dorber said.
“They can’t believe it, they’re just stunned that their backyard’s been ripped up and no one else asked them.”
Local resident Travis Andreas, who has previously called council to complain about the park, said his main concern was the lack of parental supervision.
“We don’t have a problem with the kids playing handball, it’s just that the sound rises and it’s a distraction in an evening when you’re trying to have a quiet bite to eat and relax,” he said.
“[It’s] noisy enough that we’ve got to close the windows every night.”
Mr Dorber said the council’s decision was a shame for the children.
“I’ve never heard a complaint, all I see is happy children laughing and shouting and running. Sounding like they’re so joyful,” he said.
“And it’s a place for them to get exercise. We hear all these complaints about obesity and children not playing. Here’s a beautiful backyard and the council without consulting the residents has ripped this up.
“It takes your breath away to believe in this society nowadays a grumbler has more power than happy children. I can’t believe it.
“Someone’s taken away some of their joy and happiness and it’s not fair or reasonable.”
One local boy, Yu Chan, was particularly upset by the decision.
“We want to play handball. Why’s the handball court gone?” he said.
Local resident and mother Tori Thompson said it was a big overreaction.
“I’ve never had anyone come out and complain about noise while we’ve been here,” she said.
“My sons are out there every afternoon with all the kids from the neighbourhood and yeah they’re noisy but it’s a park.
“Don’t live with a park in the middle of you if you don’t want noise.”
Another local resident, Marie, said the concrete slab kept children from playing on nearby roads and walkways.
“Every afternoon and all day on Saturday and Sunday the children were playing, lining up, resolving the conflict that happens when you play handball,” she said.
“I was a big handball player when I was a child, and it’s lovely these good old fashioned games are coming back in and the video games are being left at home.”
Marie said she had no inkling of complaints.
“The noise I’ve always heard is just the sound of young children playing, and that is a lovely calming noise.”
Council plan to move slab to larger park nearby
A BCC spokesman said the slab was intended as the foundation for a permanent table tennis table “as part of the legacy celebrations for the Commonwealth Games”.
“One of these tables was intended to be installed at a small park in the Kelvin Grove Urban Village, however, council received noise complaints from residents after the concrete foundation was installed,” the spokesman said.
“Residents indicated they do not support the concrete slab or the table tennis facility and council has instead relocated it to a larger nearby park.
“The concrete slab was never intended to be a handball court and it will be removed.”
On Thursday afternoon, BCC Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said he hoped children would still be able to enjoy the facility once it was moved to the larger park about 300 metres away.
“The kids in the area are obviously upset. They want it, residents don’t want it, and so we’re moving it through to a place which is fairly close by but where also we believe there will be far less resistance in terms of residential complaints,” he said.
“The reality is people are unhappy with it in its current location, so we will move it. We want to move it that it’s not too far away form the kids that were always wanting to enjoy these table tennis facilities. That will be a distance of about 300 metres away.
“Council gets caught between a rock and a hard place on these things sometimes. Obviously the kids want the facility, parents concerned about noise from the facility … these are the things that councils deal with.
“To keep everyone as happy as we can in this situation we’re going to move it close by to a larger area and hopefully the kids and the parents can enjoy it in peace.”
Council workers arrives with excavators and trucks early on Thursday morning. (Supplied: Marie)