Councillor Leigh Colacino showing an example of the online map where visitors can post their comments

The Bald Hill Reserve at Stanwell Park is set for a facelift, but whether it major or minor will be in the hands of the community and visitors to the site.

Over 3000 people attend the historic Reserve on weekends, with tourists and locals drawn to its iconic scenery.

Wollongong City Council is asking the community for its thoughts on the proposed development to improve the services on site, through a community engagement program.

“This time [we’re] obviously trying to get the community involved as much as we possibly can,” Councillor Leigh Colacino said.

Previously, plans for the development of the Reserve had fallen though when the majority of the community did not support the Masterplan at the time.

The Council will also have help from the International Built Environment and Engineering Company Arup to work with the community on the new Masterplan.

Community members will be able to voice their opinions on the site, during a design charrette on May 4.

The main concerns raised by visitors included road safety, old amenities and buses blocking the access to car parks.

“What they’re not happy with at the moment is the way the amenities block is functioning,” Cr Colacino said.

“They weren’t happy with the post-development there.

“The charrette is there to find out what people want… It has to be open to everyone.”

As well as the charrette, which the Council hopes should be finished by the beginning of August, community members can contribute to the plan through the community information and design session on May 5, as well as online on a interactive map where people can post comments.

As well as improving the services there, the Council has to keep the balance between preserving the historical beauty of the site, which is valued to many, as well as providing the appropriate services for visitors as to what choice they want made.

“This is an iconic site for Australia, not only Wollongong, and we have to be there to facilitate what this site needs for the whole of Wollongong,” Cr Colacino said.

Despite the challenge in maintaining the nature features of the site, the Council is determined to do as much as they can to help the visitors of the Reserve.

“This site is so iconic; everyone needs to have a say,” Cr Greg Petty said.

“Personally, I love the site as it is, but recognise there are critical elements of the site that need upgrading.”

“Everything’s an option,” Cr Colacino said.

“So we’re going out to the whole of Wollongong, further than Wollongong, whoever has an opinion on board, that’s what we want to hear. So what I would want on Bald Hill is irrelevant, it’s what everybody wants on Bald Hill.”

Words & photos: NARBI GRENNAN