Work has begun on the new home of the Two Wells Trotting Owners and Trainers Association (TWTOTA) at Hams Park Reserve, Lewiston, but local residents fear they will be locked out of the site once the club’s relocation is complete.
Adelaide Plains Council (APC) has allocated $40,000 to improve the site for the club’s relocation, which is currently based at the aging trotting track off Wells Road, Two Wells.
In 2018 a report to APC’s February ordinary meeting recommended the TWTOTA relocate to Hams Park Reserve, with associated public consultation and a hydrological report of the site, to assess its flood risk, conducted.
TWTOTA negotiated a lease with APC in October last year for its 25 members to use the whole site at Hams Park Reserve and have since discussed fencing of remnant vegetation in the reserve and planting native trees along the boundary fence.
TWTOTA secretary Rebecca Bush said it was never the Association’s intention to “lock” anyone out of the reserve but common sense would need to prevail when horses were working on the track and signage would be erected to advise to this effect.
“Hams Park is leased by the TWTOTA, therefore what we choose to do with the area is our decision,” she said.
“Consultation to residents occurred years ago prior to the council approving the lease.
“Signage will be in place to ensure other users are aware horses have right of way and caution will need to be used at times when training is occurring.
“As a dog owner myself I know plenty of people who walk their dogs at Hams Park, I also know horse riders who use the area.
“For the safety of all, dogs may need to be on a leash to ensure they do not chase horses being exercised, either ridden or driven.”
Ms Bush said the new dog park in Lewiston would be able to cater for off leash dog exercise and the club had made considerable efforts to keep impacts to local residents to a minimum, including discussions about how to recycle water to provide for new tree seedlings, the best position of amenities and even possible designated times for track use by its members.
Living adjacent to Hams Park Reserve is Marie Duckford and her husband Jeff, as well as Marie’s elderly parents Margaret and Malc Hughes, who live in a granny flat just meters from the proposed trotting track.
Marie’s property backs onto the reserve and for the past decade the family has enjoyed the rural site; walking and riding around the track’s perimeter and teaching nine-year-old granddaughter, Aneshka, to ride her beloved horse.
Mrs Duckford is concerned access to the reserve will be limited, or possibly even prohibited, once the TWTOTA moves in and is worried about the proximity of the track to her boundary fence.
“During the holidays my granddaughter is out there riding,” Mrs Duckford said.
“We see a lot of people out there with kids on ponies, people out there walking their dogs, or power walking around the track.
“I’m less bothered about the trotting track itself but want to know how close the track is going to be from our boundary fence?
“If they build it as they are suggesting those horses will be pounding right past my (parent’s) bedroom window.
“I can’t get any answers, it doesn’t sound like anyone is listening.”
Mrs Duckford was also concerned the site was a lot to maintain for a small organisation.
“If this turns into the tip like the one in Two Wells is then I have even bigger concerns,” she said.
“I want to know what council is going to do to make sure that this doesn’t happen.”
Fellow local resident, Colin Langman said he was concerned about more people coming into the area and a possible need to beef up security.
Mr Langman has lived about 500 metres from the reserve for the past 12 years and recently had $10,000 worth of tools stolen from a shed on his property.
“The more people we have coming into the area, the overall security, or feeling of security, goes down,” he said. “You’re less aware of the locals that are here (and) the more people you’ve got coming into the area you don’t know, the more likelihood there is of unscrupulous behaviour.”
Mr Langman said while most residents in the area lived on large allotments that did not always mean they were able to exercise their pets at home.
“I know people argue you’re on 2.5 acres and you can use that, but a lot of these people have livestock on their property and can’t let their dogs out for that reason,” he said.
“There are a lot of people who use that park to walk their dogs, exercise their dogs, or run with their kids.
“If you take that away from them there’s not really anywhere else around they can use.”
Ms Bush conceded most local harness trainers had their own tracks on their properties, but it was important for horses in training to regularly take part in “fast work”, which required a larger track with a suitable surface.
“Locals will now have a maintained area to use when horses are not on the track,” she added.
“No more walking through weeds not being able to see whether you are treading on a snake or not.”
Adelaide Plains Council CEO, James Miller, confirmed there is a current lease between council and the TWTOTA, with the appropriate insurances in place.
“In accordance with the relevant council resolution (2018/243) the lease between council and the association relates to the whole of Hams Park Reserve however discussions have occurred, and will continue, in relation to options to allow public use of Hams Park for dog walking and similar recreational activity,” Mr Miller said.