Bayside Council will retain the six-metre high fence at Gardiner Park, Banksia despite residents' objections, saying it is necessary for public safety.
Residents have called for the fence to be removed describing it as a mistake and a blight on the landscape.
As part of the Gardiner Park project, the council installed the six-metre high chain-link wire fence behind the goal at the western and eastern ends of Field One and at southern end of Field Two.
Following representations by residents, Council decided in July 2021 to remove the six- metre high fence at the eastern side of the grass field.
But a report by council staff now recommends the council retains the six-metre high fences in place at Gardiner Park to ensure public safety.
"CivicRisk Mutual, Council's insurance provider said removal of the fence will create potential liability issues for Bayside Council," a council staff report said.
"It advised that property damage caused by soccer balls can be repaired quite economically, however should a ball strike a person and particularly an infant, the damage could be catastrophic."
Resident Catriona Carver criticised the council's risk assessment advice from the council's insurance company.
The council's risk reason relies on a case from England in 1951 where a cricket ball went over a fence and hit a committee member who was standing close to the field, Ms Carver told the July 27 council meeting.
"But cricket isn't played at Gardiner Park. There's no evidence of a ball that's gone over a fence and hit anybody. There's more risk on a soccer field from heading a soccer ball," she said.
"Where the fence is is actually on the side of the soccer field, The goals are on the other side."
Ms Carver asked the council to defer the decision to retain the fence so it can go to the new Gardiner Park Reference Group.
Duncan MacLeod, a resident bordering the park said the fence is totally out of character with the bush surrounds.
"The council's resolution last July supported the fence's removal," Mr MacLeod said.
"It established that the fence was out of proportion and unnecessary and supported its removal.
"Four weeks ago residents submitted a joint letter asking why the council hasn't followed through on its resolution of last July.
"To our astonishment immediately after our submission we had this current recommendation put forward by council to retain the fence, a whole year after it had been decided to remove it."
Mr MacLeod said the fence is now unnecessary as the field orientation has changed.
"It's in the wrong place to stop soccer balls. This fence was installed behind the goal but now the field orientation runs parallel with the fence. As a result there aren't actually any balls being kicked into the fence so it is serving no real purpose. The recommendation seems to be concerned with injuries from cricket. This development at Gardiner Park has ensured that no other sports apart from soccer can be played in the park. The fence has no real risk management value and is a major blight on the landscape."
Bayside mayor, Dr Christina Curry said, "We acknowledge the concerns raised by residents. It is important to note that councillors are constrained in the decision and that is based on the specific history of the site and particularly the legal process we have party to. The resolution (to remove the fence) was made in the previous term of council and it was prior to any legal proceedings."
The issue of the impact of the fencing was raised at the interlocutory court proceedings by the Friends of Gardiner Park, but dismissed in those proceedings. The impact of the fencing was not an issue raised in the recent substantive court proceedings, the report by council staff said.
Cr Andrew Tsounis moved that the matter be taken to the new Gardiner Park Reference Group.
"If I lived adjacent to the park and all of a sudden there's a six-metre high fence I'd be horrified," he said.
"We need to examine opportunities for this fence. There's a company that erects a temporary six-metre fence and can pull it down at night. This is an option we could examine."
Cr Bill Saravinovski said the council has a document that says there is a potential risk.
"We have to protect the residents. We can't push it aside. We should keep the fence and ask the reference group to have advanced landscaping," he said.
The council voted to keep the fence and added that the new Gardiner Park Reference Group examine options, including advanced planting, to provide a more aesthetic outcome.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.