Community Spotlight: Rob Perkins of Grace Park Residents Association
The President of the Grace Park Residents Association (GPRA) Rob Perkins can’t take a stroll down Glenferrie Road without bumping into at least one person to stop and have a chat. If it isn’t Charles at Poloman telling him about a new shirt that would suit him, it’s someone wanting to say hello to his one-year-old Westie, Maisie.
Living in Melbourne his whole life, Rob and his wife Kaye moved into Grace Park area in 1985 and later became founding members of the GPRA.
Grace Park is home to nearly 250 residents with many of these residents participating in the GPRA through regular meetings, funding and action to protect the residential amenity of the area. The association brings people together, allowing neighbours to get to know one another, and builds the community with an overall aim of “protecting the residential amenity of Grace Park.”
Grace Park residential area is a great example of high quality Victorian housing on large blocks, which is one of the reasons Rob and Kaye are so passionate about making sure it is maintained.
“We inherited an area that has survived 150 years. We want to make sure it’s handed on in a similar state to the next generation.”
Since Rob has been involved, the association has had many victories – including ensuring the old Hawthorn Football Club social club site was returned to residential use, and limiting the ability of the Glenferrie Hospital to convert local houses to medical facilities.
Both of these instances of GPRA success were inorder to maintain the residential status of Grace Park by limiting commercial intrusion.
The association also lobbied for Boroondara Council to implement a Grace Park Master Plan as well as an irrigation system using recycling water to save the trees in Grace Park.
Outside of the GPRA duties, Rob is an engineer, enjoys classic cars, collecting old watches, gardening and taking his dog out around the area.
Having lived in Hawthorn for nearly 40 years now, Rob has seen many changes, particularly noticing the change in the diversity of stores in recent years.
“I go out of my way to buy things locally and support local traders,” Rob says. He is a regular at places like Poloman and Mountford Shoes as well as a number of coffee shops.
Rob discusses the need for traders to take action for change in the area. "Traders need to look at how we maintain a vibrant Glenferrie Road." He sees the need for additional car parking to ensure the area is accessible to customers and traders, and at the same time to avoid clogging local streets with cars. He would like VicTrack to lease their empty shopfronts under the railway bridge and for Boroondara Council to put more effort into the streetscape along Glenferrie Road. “We would be almost the only shopping precinct in Boroondara without some streetscape improvements”, he said.
The beautiful parks, Lido Cinema, Hawthorn Aquatic & Leisure Centre and all the cafés make Glenferrie what it is today, Rob says, and more often than not, he doesn’t even have to take his car out of the garage.
The area is so accessible on foot, by tram or train and filled with so many different things to do from shopping and dining, to taking Maisie for a run at the Glenferrie Oval or Grace Park.
“I enjoy the environ- ment, it is a true hallmark of the area and one that we fight hard to retain.”