Youth plaza defies the critics

In what was one of the most contentious projects of recent times, there was big community backlash about what was thought to be a lack of communication, poor location and fear of anti-social behaviour from the plaza’s users.

However, Fremantle community development director Marisa Spaziani said that after a year of operation, the city believes community sentiment is turning in favour of the plaza.

‘A community survey was conducted late last year and revealed that almost 95 per cent felt the plaza was a youth friendly space, 96 per cent felt the plaza was having a positive impact on Fremantle and over 75 per cent had not experienced any anti-social behaviour there,’ she said.

She said regular users of the plaza had quickly taken protective ownership of the area, with offences like graffiti less prevalent than expected.

‘I recall one tagging incident where several young people approached us and said they were glad it was cleaned up and how dare someone tag their park,’ she said.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said given the big numbers visiting the plaza, the city had expected a high number of complaints, but that had not happened.

‘We find that the area self-regulates, with people often seen stepping in and challenging inappropriate behaviour and showing a great sense of community ownership,’ he said.

However, Fremantle Society president Henty Farrar said the consultation process remained a sore point and needed to be addressed in the future. He added that road safety was a growing problem.

‘Skaters are now roaring down High Street and other streets, not only on the road but footpaths and in the dark as well,’ he said.

‘This is dangerous behaviour and a risk to pedestrians and drivers not to mention the thrill-seekers on the boards, but members have reported nothing anti-social at the park itself.

‘We still believe the plaza is in the wrong place and should have been on the carpark adjacent, but the general locale is fine, it is central and away from most residents and well lit.’