The Hyde Street Reserve is not quite an urban paradise, but over the decades the former tip in the shadow of the West Gate has been lovingly rehabilitated by local volunteers who want a riverland park all of Melbourne will appreciate.
Soon, all that work could be for nought.
The Daniel Andrews government - a fervent critic of Denis Napthine's plan to drive a toll road through Royal Park - is working with Transurban on its toll-road proposal that could require much of the reserve for an interchange.
"If that is built, it is basically over - it will really mean the destruction of the park," said Steve Wilson, president of Friends of Stony Creek.
The volunteer Friends of Stony Creek group started its work in 1992, gathering several grants from Parks Victoria and Melbourne Water along the way.
"We have done a lot of plantings - thousands of plants. When we started, there were piles of sand dumped all over the place, and the only a few trees planted."
The reserve, still a long way from complete, is a popular place to bring dogs or take a walk. It was opened in the 1980s along with other parks created below the West Gate.
If the $5 billion Western Distributor interchange is built there, the park is as good as gone, Mr Wilson said. "You can sit there and the West Gate is a little noisy, but this would not be bearable."
This week, the Friends of Stony Creek met to discuss plans for the interchange with Transurban, which is now working on the final design for the road. Its first proposal for the toll road had zero impact on the park. Months later, it released a second plan that would decimate it.
Now, all but one of the options under consideration would have impacts on public parks ranging from the minor to the severe.
Local Greens MP Colleen Hartland said this was not good enough.
"The hypocrisy is gobsmacking," Ms Hartland said. "Labor opposed the East West Link in large part on the basis of the impact on parkland. Now it's not in a marginal seat, they don't seem to care."
Ms Hartland, whose district takes in much of Melbourne's west, said there was a significant shortage of green space around Yarraville and that it was "incredible" driving a freeway interchange through the Hyde Street Reserve and over Stony Creek was even being considered.
Maribyrnong Council is yet to set a formal position on its preferred options for the toll road.
But Grant Miles, a councillor for the Yarraville area, said his personal opinion was that much more work needed to be done to make clear how much public parkland was at risk.
"The consultations that we have had from Transurban don't seem to be able to explain the exact loss of space that will be occurring," he said.
Cr Miles said a lack of debate over the loss of amenities or services in the western suburbs was endemic. "Issues don't get the same attention as they do in the inner north or the eastern suburbs - not only open space but many issues," he said.
The West Gate Bridge, and the Hyde Street Reserve to its right. Photo: Joe Armao
A spokeswoman for Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said that the final concept designs for the Western Distributor were being refined so the community got the best outcome.
And she said that, if the option that would see parts of Hyde Street Reserve taken for the toll road was chosen, it would be offset by turning about 30,000 square metres of contaminated neighbouring industrial land into new open space.
"The land bordered by Beverley Street and Stephen Street would be thoroughly rehabilitated to create a park for use by the local community," she said, with any contractor required to follow strict requirements for fixing contaminated land.
Felicity McGahan, Victorian chapter manager for the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, said they wanted to see more tunnelling to protect the quality of open space.
She said landscape architects and architects working on the project needed to be able to resolve the road requirements without hurting the park.
"Parks and green space [are] critical infrastructure in a city that is growing significantly in population terms, and valuable parks should not be destroyed in pursuit of another type of infrastructure," Ms McGahan said.