Rollerdrome revival divides Geraldton residents

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Elise Van AkenMidwest Times
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The building that housed Geraldton's old Rollerdrome at 15 Simpson Street, Beresford.
Camera IconThe building that housed Geraldton's old Rollerdrome at 15 Simpson Street, Beresford. Credit: Elise Van Aken/Midwest Times

The prospect of the return of the Rollerdrome to Geraldton has excited locals this week, but not everyone is rushing to put their skates on.

Last week the City of Greater Geraldton advertised for public feedback on 15 Simpson Street, Beresford reopening under a proposal from the Geraldton Sporting Aboriginal Corporation for indoor sports including roller derby and hockey, cricket, soccer, netball and basketball, youth activities, and cultural events.

The corporation confirmed it wanted to open the facility to the public one weekend night a week in a similar way to the Rollerdrome, fondly remembered from the 1980s, for public skating.

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A letter circulating around Beresford mailboxes regarding the proposed reopening of the old Geraldton Rollerdrome.
Camera IconA letter circulating around Beresford mailboxes regarding the proposed reopening of the old Geraldton Rollerdrome. Credit: Supplied

A letter opposing the reopening has circulated around some Beresford residences near the site, urging neighbours to submit their feedback to the City, signed only with a non-identifying email address.

“I am deeply concerned of the side effects this will bring to our area, loitering of youth, parking and traffic issues, graffiti and vandalism, increase in crime and antisocial behaviour in the area, noise associated with events and sports, dramatic devaluation of our properties,” it read.

“These are just some of my concerns. I encourage everyone who is against this happening to object via the form and lobby against this project to the council.

“I think a facility like this is a great thing for Geraldton but not in a residential area such as Beresford.”

A local resident, speaking to the Geraldton Guardian, said they hadn’t received the letter or any communication from the City or GSAC, despite living “very close” to the lot.

The street view of Geraldton's old Rollerdrome at 15 Simpson Street, Beresford.
Camera IconThe street view of Geraldton's old Rollerdrome at 15 Simpson Street, Beresford. Credit: Elise Van Aken/Midwest Times

They said they had lived in the area when the building was used by the Sun City Christian Centre, which they had no issue with apart from heavy traffic and its visitors parking on local verges, at times blocking their driveway.

“I feel as a resident we should have been informed of what was happening with the centre. The fact we haven’t is alarming,” they said.

“We need more information before we are able to say if we support it or not.

“At the end of the day, we did choose to live here and knew it was there ... you don’t live in the CBD if you don’t expect vibrancy.”

Adrian Bartlett
Camera IconAdrian Bartlett

GSAC chief executive Adrian Bartlett said residents’ concerns were valid, but he was happy to meet with them to discuss what the corporation would do to address them.

“Friday nights do come with a few issues with young people gathering, we don’t expect anything to happen but the potential is there,” he said.

“We’re looking at bus transport and working with the partners involved to make sure there’s no issues for those immediate residents.

“Those immediate residents have concerns, and they’re legitimate and we want to make sure everyone is happy.

“The majority of the community are supportive. We’ll have a 12-month lease if we’re successful and we’ll give it our best shot.

“If we’re not successful, at least we’ve tried.”

We’ll have a 12-month lease if we’re successful and we’ll give it our best shot. If we’re not successful, at least we’ve tried.

- Geraldton Sporting Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Adrian Bartlett.

The proposal has received widespread praise online, but some community members are sceptical.

“Great, just what the Geraldton youths needed,” Lynnette Maclachlan commented.

Yes, the Rollerdrome is a wonderful idea, dearly missed (it) when it was taken away,” Charmaine Trezona wrote.

“Yes the kids need some indoor activities apart from gaming machines. Bring back 10 pen bowling too,” Carolyn N G Clarke added.

“Definitely needed in Gero, (would) be great for all ages as longas it’s monitored properly,” Leanne Lolang commented.

“I pity the residents living nearby,” John Ward said.

People have until close of business on Wednesday, August 18, to submit feedback to the City.

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