Green Square at Kingston. Photo: Graham Tidy
Children playing in Green Square will no longer have to dodge spiky native plants after Chief Minister Katy Gallagher overrode government bureaucrats and agreed to allow grass to be returned to the landmark Kingston site.
After passing an Australian-first same-sex law on Tuesday, the ACT Legislative Assembly turned its attention to municipal matters on Wednesday to debate the future of Green Square.
Dying grass was replaced with paving and drought-resistant native plants in 2010 due to the drought.
Spiky no more ... Grass will come back to Green Square, replacing plants that have taken the place of the old lawn. Photo: Graham Tidy
Liberal MLA Steve Doszpot spoke to the Assembly in Tuesday in favour of a petition signed by 900 people calling for the return of green grass to the square.
But the government revealed it had agreed to an offer from Kingston traders to pay for raised grass beds to be installed in the square and for ongoing maintenance.
Traders had written to Ms Gallagher in late August with the offer, but their letter was lost by the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate.
Authorities ripped up the old grass in 2010. Photo: Graham Tidy
The letter was found last week and the directorate advised the government to reject the offer.
But Ms Gallagher rejected the advice.
“The government will put in place a process to work with you and a timetable for those changes to occur,’’ she told the Assembly.
Mr Doszpot welcomed the decision, noting that the lack of green grass in the square for children to play on had hurt cafes and bars in the square.
“The loss of grassed area meant that there was nowhere for families to sit with their children, nowhere for children to run and play while their parents had breakfast, read the papers had a coffee.’’
Kingston traders’ spokeswoman Gabi Radinger said the changes to the square would be paid for through a levy on traders.
Mrs Radiner said it had been unfair of the government to stop irrigating the former lawn while continuing to ensure the lawn in Manuka was maintained.
Mrs Radinger said the native plants had made Green Square uninviting and hurt children who played around them.
“People have been avoiding the square,’’ she said.