Tote Renovations & Wulaba Park

(11am, Saturday 22 March 2014, Tote Park, Joynton Avenue)

Thank you, Maria [Pavlides], and welcome.

I'd also like to acknowledge Shener Dusan from Meriton who will be working with us to provide a new park which we'll be telling you about today.

Today, we're also marking the re-opening of this historic building, which has been given an extensive refurbishment as a centre for your community.

Long-term residents will know that this area was once the Waterloo Swamp - an extensive wetland covering most of what are now Alexandria, Zetland and Waterloo.

In 1908, part of the swamp was drained to make the Victoria Park Racecourse, built by Sir James Joynton Smith, a hotelier, newspaper owner and later Lord Mayor of Sydney. It was described as "one of the best courses in the State" and the Tote building was part of its success.

It got its name from an Australian engineer, Sir George Julius, who designed the first automatic totalisator - or tote machine - in 1913. The machine displayed the number of each horse on the program, and the amount that was bet on each - thereby giving punters a much better idea of a horse's position than they would get from the bookmakers' odds.

The building to house the tote machine was finished in 1917 and is now the only surviving structure from the racecourse days.

From 1942 till 1945, the Army occupied the site, and it re-opened as a horse-training track until 1947, when the British car magnate, Lord Nuffield, bought the site and used it until 1975 to make cars for the British Motor Corporation. They eventually moved out and it was occupied by Defence once again before being sold to Landcom in 1997.

So the Tote remains as an historic link with the past of this dramatically changing area.

The improved facilities here now include an elevator for ease of access to the upper floors; function rooms and a kitchen which can be hired by local groups for a variety of events.

We've expanded the ground-floor library and added more computers and power points at the desks so people can connect their laptops so the Tote will continue to function into this century. Staff can give you more information about hiring out the community spaces.

Today, we're also looking for your feedback on proposals for a new park near the corner of O'Dea Avenue and South Dowling Street. It will be on Amelia Street and is to be called Wulaba [pronounced woo-LAH-ba] Park.

The design and construction is being delivered as part of a planning agreement with the developer, Meriton, and I welcome Shener Dusan here today.

This park will be a neighbourhood park for both passive and active recreation, with a play island for children aged three to 12 years, picnic areas and table tennis facilities.

There is also the potential for a community garden, if there is sufficient interest - so if you'd like to get involved with one, please let the staff know.

As Green Square grows, parks will be ever more important as green spaces for everyone to use.

Today, our staff will also show you the latest designs for the fabulous new library and plaza.

We're also keen to hear your thoughts on the name "Green Square" as a suburb.

So please stay and enjoy your time here. There's a free plant five-away, face-painting and coffee, and there's also a story-time session with crafts for the kids.

Thank you for your interest in coming and we look forward to your feedback.