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Thursday, 14 December 2023 19:48

Build-and-ride scheme at Grayling Reserve – a difficult balance

Grayling Reserve is a small area on the corner of Grayling Street and Binalong Street in West Pymble. It covers an area of about 1,300 m2. There is a creek on one side plus a narrow strip of bushland. Two sides are bounded by houses and the fourth side is a narrow entrance from Grayling Street. The remainder is a grassed area with a few saplings. Visibility of the grassed area is screened by the bushland.

In the bushland there are several large Blackbutt trees with hollows that are likely to be over 100 years old. These trees are increasingly rare in Ku-ring-gai and need special protection. There is one Blackbutt that would have a girth of about 5 m at the Grayling Street entrance. There is also a Lomatia myricoides (River Lomatia) and some Allocasuarina torulosa which are quite unusual in West Pymble.

The major part of the reserve is classified as critically endangered Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest on council mapping. The reserve is also an essential wildlife corridor.

The trees in the reserve used to be roosting sites for Powerful Owls, Boobook Owls and Tawny Frogmouths. Gliders have also been seen in the past and there are markings on the trees from their activity. The neighbours have advised that they have not seen this wildlife since the bike park disturbance occurred.

During COVID, in 2021, the locals started building bike jumps and paths in the cleared area of the park. This area is only small, about 900 m2. Even though this construction was unauthorised, council recognised the demand for this sort of informal facility. The building is an integral part of the fun as well as the bike riding.

After some consultation with the neighbours and an environmental assessment, in May 2023, council decided to trial making the bike park official and provided some dirt and tools to assist with building jumps.

Signs were erected advising the conditions of the trial, for example:

Do not dig, use the materials provided

Tread lightly, don’t harm bushland or plants

Keep the site clear of rubbish

DamagedSignHowever, by July there were reports from neighbours of anti-social behaviour with older children harassing the younger ones, night time disturbance and dangerous riding in nearby streets. Trees were being damaged, some small Callicomas chopped down and dirt piled up against the Blackbutt at the entrance. Water was being taken from neighbouring properties. Creek crossings were being created interrupting the flow of the creek.

In response council placed temporary signs with stronger warnings in several locations around the site, for example:

Do not harm trees or plants or this track will be closed

Damage continued and the signs were pulled down so council closed the site and undertook a survey of the local community.

This site is not suitable for a bike park

STEP’s submission argued that this area should be a reserve, that is a quiet space for passive enjoyment for visitors and habitat for wildlife; not a highly disturbed play area. The area is not visible from the street and is too small to be a useful bike park.

In September council responded to the consultation feedback by deciding to close the build-and-ride park trial, saying the reasons were the various environmental and social issues. The announcement noted that signposted conditions of use had been repeatedly broken by users. Details are here: .

The West Pymble Facebook page erupted with comments expressing outrage at the removal of a valued facility. It seems the value had been abused. However there is a strong interest in the concept of a build-and-ride site.

Often it is the build aspect that is the most popular – sand pits for bigger kids? Council is looking for suggestions from the public of sites suitable for trials of the build-and-ride concept.