By Garry Howe
The legacy of long-serving City of Casey councilor Mick Morland is marked subliminally in many a corner of the municipality.
He donned the mayoral robes to officially open the Casey Arc Aquatic and Recreation Centre in Narre Warren and turned the first sod to start the build nearby of Bunjil Place.
They are among the bigger ticket projects that carry his name on a plaque if you look hard enough. There would be countless more across the region where the contribution he made might not necessarily be recognised.
Now there’s a place where his legacy will live on forever.
Mick was lost to his family and the community in June 2017 when struck by a car and killed near his Berwick home.
On Saturday, almost five years after that tragic event, his widow Kay and family members joined former council colleagues, administrators and friends at the official opening of the Mick Morland Legacy Link and Recreation Reserve in Clyde North.
The link is a dedicated walkway between the Manna Gum Community Centre, Cardinia Creek and the recreation reserve, home to the Berwick Springs football, netball and cricket clubs and the Melbourne Flash Sports Club.
Inscribed on the pathway are the words Community, Participation, Sport and Nature – all synonymous with Mick’s contribution over the years.
Casey’s chair of administrators, Noelene Duff, said the Mick Morland Reserve, located in the Kilora Park Estate, was an important community hub that celebrated the support he demonstrated throughout his life for sporting clubs, the community and nature conservation.
“The reserve forms part of the council endorsed ‘Mick Morland Legacy Link’, connecting the new community centre, recreation reserve and Cardinia Creek, an important recreation, conservation, and ecologically significant site,” Ms Duff said.
“Located in one of Australia’s fasted growing suburbs, this reserve will be a valuable recreation space that will support community activity and connectedness – ideals that were championed by Mick Morland throughout his life.”
Kay Morland said it was a fitting tribute to her late husband and the work he had done in the community.
“This precinct encompasses the things Mick was passionate about during his years on council – community, sport and the environment. He would be humbled, and our family is very grateful, that the City of Casey has chosen to honour his contribution in this way,” Kay said.
She explained that Mick was actively involved in the community from the time he moved to Narre Warren, before he was elected to council.
Like many parents he immersed himself in the kindergarten committee, the school council at Narre Warren Station Primary, the little athletics club as a coach and at the Narre Warren Junior Football Club, where he held the positions of president, secretary and coach over a decade.
“In fact, it was his involvement with the Narre Warren Junior Football Club and his concern about their relocation to Sweeney Reserve that triggered his running for council with the City of Berwick in the first place,” she said.
“I have absolutely no idea how many community groups and committees Mick served on during his time on council – mind you, if he were here he could tell you exactly how many and I’ve no doubt name each one of them – but I do know that he was on the council’s environment committee since its inception. He was prone to reminding people of that.
“Mick’s involvement in all of these things is reflected in the Mick Morland Legacy Link by the community centre, the primary school and the recreation reserve linking to the Cardinia Creek Conservation Corridor. All of which makes the naming of this area for him extremely appropriate and very special.
“We know how much he cared about the city he lived in and the many communities that make up that city. He would be very proud to have his commitment and contribution to the quality of life for the citizens of his community recognised in this way.
“His children, grandchildren and I are very proud too.”
Kay acknowledged Casey CEO Glenn Patterson, active communities manager Angie Peresso, events manager Vicky Goodwin and other who helped make the tribute a reality.
She also acknowledged the Rotary Club of Berwick – of which Mick was a long-term member – for its generous donation of a seat on the far side of the oval which would eventually be canopied by a native oak tree.
Gembrook MP Brad Battin and Bass MP Jordan Crugnale both spoke of Mick’s contribution to the community.
Mr Battin said it was a shame the Berwick Springs Titans didn’t wear the yellow and black of Mick Morland’s beloved Richmond Tigers when gracing the field named in his honour.
But he did have a good idea to enhance to the legacy – a yearly clash for the Mick Morland Cup, with proceeds going to the Rotary Club to invest into worthwhile community projects.
Mick was first elected to the then City of Berwick in 1992 and served for six terms as a councillor in the Edrington Ward.