• Andrew Tuck

Fitness Hurting Locals - Opinion

From 1980 till the early 2000’s the residents of Foothills Road, Austinmer enjoyed the quiet tranquil life of living across from the Royal National Park. This has since changed as it has become a highway of traffic coming and going from the beginning of the Gibson Track.

The National Parks reopened the Sublime Point walking track back in 2013 after it was closed due to landslides and the track and ladders being in a state of disrepair. Since then, the track has become an attraction for all walks of life, from families to fitness fanatics, hikers and day trippers.

The local residents have had enough of the early mornings being awoken by the noise of loud groups of people talking, the knock on the door from people begging to use their toilet, parking across their driveway, using their taps and hoses to grab a drink and not turning them off.

Residents have tried to reach out the Wollongong City Council and NSW National Park with no response. On top of people parking in the street to conquer the steps on the Sublime point lookout track, local business Ibah Spa Austinmer uses the street for their customer parking adding to the long line of traffic and parking woes of the street.

From 5am till 9pm on a weekend the street traffic can be seen taking up both sides of the road along the full length of the street. Where are the resident of the street meant to park?

As a local resident of the street, when leaving the house of a weekend traffic cones are a necessity so that there is a space to come home to after a long day at work or just a short trip down the road for some shopping.

Foothills Road is no longer the quiet street to raise your kids on and teach them to ride their bikes along the road. Those days are gone and long term residents of the street have had enough and are deserting the area.

After several years of unanswered requests for assistance to the NSW National Parks and Wollongong City Council, residents have taken matters into their own hands by painting no parking lines around their driveways. On many occasions, the street residents have had their cars parked in on the street outside their own houses and cars parked across their driveways blocking them in. There has been some instances where residents have gotten home only to find another car parked in their driveway and have copped words of abuse when asking people to move.

"The other weekend we called the local police as a young girl parked her car halfway across our driveway and went up the track. The local police asked us to take photos of the situation before they arrived. The police arrived a few hours later, well after the car had gone and advised us they couldn't do anything anyway. And I missed a planned outing with my grandchildren." - one local resident said.

Since the residents took matters into their own hands, Council has advised they will be removing any painted driveway lines on the road as it is seen as graffiti and complaints have been received.

- Councils solution is to put timed parking down the residents side of the road, but will not issue residents parking permits.

- In order to keep people from walking down the middle of the road, Council's solution is to put a sidewalk on the nature strip on National Park land.

- A car park solution has been in the works for a while at the beginning of the track, but decisions with Council have stalled.

- There was mention of National Parks installing a bin to reduce the amount of litter left behind.

- Disappointingly no solution has been presented to reduce the amount of people using the local bush as their toilet.

So who can help the struggling residences of Foothills Road Austinmer?

"One morning I came out and asked a loud group of woman from a local fitness group, to please move off my property, where they were doing their warm ups, and had the instructor yell at me that they could be there if they wanted to.

This kind of situation and behaviour happens on a regular basis." - another local resident.

There has also been, on the odd occasion, a fitness enthusiast needing emergency assistance on the track. Since the street on most weekends is a car park, emergency services have been unable to access the track due to people parking on path ways and double parking in the middle of the cul-de-sac. With the increased volume of people parking at the bottom of Foothills Road, instead of in the large car park at Sublime Point Lookout up top, it puts additional strain on the already frustrated residents. Especially so when tour buses turn up and have to reverse the full length of the street just to turn around.

What will become of the beloved quiet streets of the northern suburbs of Wollongong? Will anyone help the locals?

#2018 #Opinion

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