A Pilbara council has voted in favour of repurposing a $14 million water park, which is less than a decade old, into a dog park. Passed at the Town of Port Hedland’s April council meeting, South Hedland’s Marquee Water Park — which first opened in 2013 at a cost to ratepayers of $14.4m — will be repurposed into a dog exercise park. The park has been plagued by operational issues since it first opened, and has been out of operation since November 2020. Multiple incidents of vandalism including the burning of the soft-fall surface and the use of rocks placed for landscaping to cause damage have also beset the park. The location had become littered with used needles and refuse bins had been burnt on the public electric barbecues. After the park’s closure in late 2020, a report found repair works to reopen would cost the town $112,000. The park was first built as part of an almost $80m royalties for regions spend, with which the Town opened five South Hedland facilities to great fanfare between 2011 and 2015. The Wanangkura sports stadium, South Hedland swimming pool, JD Hardie Centre and South Hedland Skate park were the other four projects. Built at a cost of $78m — $21m of which was Hedland ratepayers’ funds — government planners viewed the community facilities as key building blocks to grow Hedland from a dusty mining town into a city of 50,000 people. However, as the buildings opened their doors, soaring iron ore prices began to peak and then crash. Far from a city of 50,000 residents, the downturn left Hedland with fewer than 8000 rateable properties in 2016, leading ratepayers’ association president at the time, Roger Higgins, to call for the park to be demolished to save costs. Mr Higgins said the Marquee Park Splash and Play, as a free-entry facility, was a white elephant that should be knocked down to save costs. Town of Port Hedland Mayor Peter Carter said “significant additional staffing and maintenance costs” would be required for the park to remain operational, leading to the council’s decision for the repurposing.