Howard and District Progress Association secretary-treasurer Grant Maw with some of the infrastructure at Power Park.
Howard and District Progress Association secretary-treasurer Grant Maw with some of the infrastructure at Power Park. Alistair Brightman

Asbestos, sinkhole fears close Howard park

A HOWARD park at risk of sinkholes and asbestos contamination has been closed, leaving residents asking questions.

At Power Park in Howard, the Department of Natural Resources and Mines has locked the toilets, and bins and barbecues have been removed due to vandalism and "safety concerns".

Residents are asking why safety concerns about asbestos have only been raised now.

The council has maintained Power Park since 2003, when negotiations began with the Mines Department over ownership of the recreation area.

Mayor Gerard O'Connell said negotiations to give the land to the council were complicated with "the ongoing appearance of sinkholes, contamination from the previous use as a power house, unhygienic malfunctioning toilets, lack of water and vandalism".

Facilities at the park were recently removed, leaving residents confused.

"Due to safety concerns and ongoing costs caused by vandalism to the waste bins, including the lighting of fires inside the bins, all but the waste bin adjacent to the boat ramp, have been removed," Cr O'Connell said.

"Given the costs involved maintaining and or refurbishing the facilities, the Department of Mines and Energy advised it was considering demolition of the toilets and barbecue facilities."

Seeking answers, Howard and District Progress Association secretary treasurer Grant Maw said he was bewildered by what was going on.

"It depends on who you talk to at the council as to what story you hear," he said.

"The council is treating us like mugs."

Mr Maw said he wasn't concerned about potential asbestos at the park and was searching for the reason for the infrastructure removal.

The department reimbursed costs to the council to maintain the park for the first few years but the maintenance has been undertaken at the council's expense for several years.

The State Government has now taken over responsibility for maintenance of the park and the facilities at the park.

Councillor James Hansen said the State Government had "walked away from their responsibilities".

Progress association president Kate Niblett said the park was a valued recreation reserve.

"We have so few recreational facilities in our area," she said.

"We don't expect a fancy water park, whale tail or art gallery, but we are distressed that council has chosen to remove one of the few recreational facilities we have."

The Department did not respond before deadline to questions about the contamination and sinkholes at the park.