Owl Drive residents look forward to a safer, greener future

With help from the council and community groups, residents in Murray Bridge’s so-called Birdcage plan to make their neighbourhood more appealing.

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Kara Bonsor, Makyla Main, Darren Bonsor and Ella Dolan enjoy a sausage sizzle at Magpie Drive Reserve on Friday night. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

The Bonsor family have lived on Magpie Drive for a while.

Ella and her friends play in the playground at the park, and her grandfather has wheeled a barbecue over there for a party more than once.

But Darren Bonsor is aware that the area has rough edges, too.

“I remember when someone got mugged here (in the park) a while back,” he said.

“There are lights along the street, but not anything in the middle.

“If there was a light in the middle, I probably would have noticed.”

So he was cautiously optimistic on Friday, when locals came together to talk about a plan to make Magpie Drive Reserve a bit more liveable.

Council workers will start building a network of paths through the park within weeks.

Lights will be put in over the next nine months, along with a few benches and, hopefully, a sheltered barbecue area – all things suggested by residents at another gathering back in March.

A new playground and a watering system will follow in 2022-23, though public toilets will have to wait a while longer.

The work would be expensive, Mayor Brenton Lewis told the people gathered there, but it would be worth it if it made people prouder to live in the neighbourhood.

“If you drive into a place and it looks pretty run down, you start to think ‘well, the people here are probably run down, it’s probably not much of a place’,” he said.

“You and I know better.

“This is a really good town ... you’re great people and you need to be celebrated.”

Free help offered to residents who want to improve their front yards

The makeover won’t stop with the park, either.

Habitat for Humanity’s Mark Medhurst said his organisation would be happy to help people fix up, tidy up or landscape the front of their homes.

The volunteers behind its Studio Purpose project were looking for somewhere new to use their time and expertise.

Anyone living on Owl Drive or Magpie Drive – homeowners, renters or Housing Trust tenants – would be welcome to chat about how Habitat for Humanity could help, he said.

Mr Lewis promised the council’s support, as did representatives of Unity College, Murray Bridge Community Centre and the city’s two Rotary Clubs.

Kristy Andrews, Billie and Faith Tutchell, Kiara and Jade James and Alex Zander look forward to having a safer, greener park to play in. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Residents want safety, and somewhere for the kids to play

Residents were again asked for their ideas at the barbecue on Friday.

As well as new play equipment and toilets, their suggestions included:

  • Speed humps or roundabouts on Owl Drive

  • More shady trees

  • Off-road parking

  • A solution to the problem of syringes in the park

Kristy Andrews was one of a few residents who worried that there were already “hooligans” in the park at night time, and that the 24-hour service station soon to be built around the corner would only encourage more bad behaviour.

Still, she was glad some improvements were on the way.

So was Barry Stanbury, a local for almost 25 years.

“I think it’s positive news,” he said.

“They’ve got to start somewhere.”

Information about how to get in touch with the council, or Habitat for Humanity, will be dropped into residents’ letter boxes on Owl Drive and Magpie Drive.

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