‘There’s a real vibe to the place that local residents love’A notorious Melbourne crime spot has been revamped as a community hub, with the trial of a “pop-up” park near Jewell station in inner-northern Brunswick. The 30-metre strip on the corner of Wilson Avenue and Sydney Road was blocked off to traffic in early February, with the space set to run until April 1. Council project manager William Coogan said the idea was initiated by Moreland City Council after the nearby murder of Jill Meagher in 2012 led to a rethink of safety and amenities in the area.
“The reason behind it is to really improve safety in public areas”, Mr Coogan said. The precinct has a long history of crime and is known by local police. “It’s everything from low-level stuff which is graffiti and litter right up to more serious crimes that peak around late Friday night with drinking and possibly drugs,” Mr Coogan said. Moreland Police Inspector Dean McGowan said the area was “dishevelled”, with 80 per cent of it covered in graffiti before the park was installed. The Mayor of Moreland City Council, Lambros Tapinos, said by activating the space, the council hoped to attract more people and deter crime. The Brunswick Better Block Trial received partial funding from the state government’s Community Crime Prevention Program. The space has been running for over three weeks and will continue to host a range of evening performances and activities. Next week locals will have a chance to visit a petting zoo, mingle with local business owners and sweat it out at a fitness class. When the area is not brimming with events, it is decked out with trees, turf grass and chairs, with the recycled furniture built by Victorian offender work crews. Mr Coogan said most of the community feedback had been positive, with many locals calling for the space to be made permanent.
However, a few local traders have complained about the loss of six car park spaces on the street. Mayor Tapinos has received praise from the community, with many welcoming the greenery of the trees to the area. “There’s a real vibe to the place that local residents love,” said Mr. Tapinos. Mr Coogan said the space has already helped to curb graffiti, with the area not being targeted by vandals since it was set up.
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