The Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve was once an old golf course site. It is Crown land,
managed by Bayside City Council. Bayside City Council underwent 18 months of community
consultation regarding the future of Elsternwick Park North in 2016 and 2017. This involved days
where hundreds or residents gathered together and ideas were thrown around. There were listening
posts and places where locals could place sticky notes and dots and share ideas. There were council led community sessions in which groups worked together to sketch out and define their vision of what the land could be used for. This culminated in the community drawing up 5 plans for possible uses and designs of the park for council consideration.
Finally, council appointed a deliberative panel (rate payers across Bayside, selected to represent a range of ages and locations within Bayside), who listened to three days’ worth of presentations, reviewing and updating the proposed designs from the community, and voting on the future of the site. In the end the panel voted in favour of what was called Option 1a - the upgrading of Oval 2 (the oval just West of the reserve) and the transformation of the old golf course into a “wetland and urban forest”.
In March 2017, Bayside Council voted in favour of the upgrade of Oval 2, and for the golf course to remain-primarily due to perceived legal impediments to changing the use of the land, whilst there was still an active lease in place. At that meeting, hundreds of speakers, representing many, many different groups spoke in favour of the wetland urban forest.
After that meeting, many of those speakers gathered together, decided to continue the fight for Option 1a. The result was the creation of the Elsternwick Park Coalition (a coalition of all the groups represented to work towards the creation of the wetland and urban forest) and a committee elected to continue the campaign for Option 1a.
In February 2018 the golf course operator declared its intention to cease operation at the end of its lease in June 2018. In March 2018 Bayside Council voted in favour of the then Elsternwick Golf course “becoming a wetland park with an environmental focus”.
On July 1st 2018 golfing ceased and the site was declared open to the public. That day was marked by a community celebration. The celebration was co-hosted by Bayside and the Elsternwick Park Coalition. The three councils (Bayside City Council, City of Port Phillip, and City of Glen Eira) and Melbourne Water were represented.
Photos: Community Celebration July 1, 2018. Top: Mass photo of community members, Left: Bayside and Port Phillip Councilors with John Thwaites, chair of Melbourne Water, Right: Cr. Laurie Evans (then mayor of Bayside), Cr. Dick Gross (then deputy mayor of Port Phillip) and John Thwaites (chair of Melbourne Water).
In July 2018 Bayside Council appointed a community reference panel to oversee the design and development of the reserve. In this motion, the Elsternwick Park Association was specifically named as a key member of this panel. The panel has been tasked with three tasks: 1) To provide community input into the design of the reserve 2) to develop a project plan 3) to recommend future management models for the reserve.
At the same meeting Bayside Council adopted four priorities for the reserve:
Flood mitigation and
In December 2018 Bayside Council voted for the site to be renamed the Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve, in order to reflect the new purpose of the site. This was considered a temporary decision, with a final name subject to community consultation
Current and future plans (as for 2019):
Bayside Council, with the community reference panel is doing background work essential to inform future design. This work includes:
• Soil testing
• Water and flood modelling (being undertaken by Melbourne Water)
• Fauna and habitat strategy development
• Baseline Fauna surveys
• Water strategy development.
• Public consultation
Bayside Council is due to start a period of community consultation in regards to what the community wants in a wetland park with an environmental focus. The future name for the reserve will also be a subject of community consultation.
A project plan is in the development phase. Bayside Council has set itself a goal-that the first stage of construction begin by August 2020.