Distress at sale of land and other council assets
I am writing to you to express my distress, about the proposed reclassification and sale of land and other assets under the so called Efficiencies and Sales Project that was on the agenda of the Council April 27 meeting.
This, at a time when the world needs more green spaces and more space for community use.
Council is the custodian of our community spaces, parks and natural environment and should not be so eager to convert this scarce and precious resource, in order to pay down debt.
Individual residents or community groups donated or identified much of the land referred to and classified as Community Land in the belief that we, the residents, will enjoy this land through perpetuity, with Council being the custodian on our behalf.
Our community land is priceless.
It was never the intention that this land was "money in the bank" to be drawn on when needed.
It is not to be sold off at such short notice, especially while our democratically elected representatives are suspended and unable to speak to our concerns.
Furthermore, the speed, lack of consultation or transparency about these proposed sales make a mockery of the idea of democratic decisions or community consultation.
I believe that there will be strong opposition to the reclassification and sale of any conservation, open space and recreational land as occurred in 2016 when Council tried to sell off many of our small parks and open spaces.
I am particularly concerned about the proposed sale of 23-23a Memorial Ave, Blackwall, and the mobile home park in Ettalong.
The sale of the land at Blackwall is not in the community interest as it provides significant habitat for a range of species, provides a key role in cooling the surrounding area and also serves a significant flood storage and absorption function.
Given the recommendations in Council's own draft Greener Places Strategy and the significant heat island effect identified at Woy Woy, it makes no commercial or community sense to sell this land for development.
It is not correct that the vegetation on these lots is not habitat for threatened species. Paperbarks (melaleuca quinquenervia) and other species on this site are a key food species for the nationally and state listed vulnerable grey-headed flying fox.
See this recent foraging habitat report https://datasets.seed.nsw.gov.au/dataset/flying-fox-foraging-habitat-2019.
The National Recovery Plan was adopted in March.
This land has been in Council hands since the 1950s and although not needed for its original purpose is one of only a few areas of natural lowland vegetation in this area.
It is incumbent on Council to protect this remaining vegetation and rezone it for conservation and passive recreation.
The Ettalong mobile home park provides affordable housing for over 100 households.
We have a dearth of affordable housing on the Coast in general and on the Peninsula in particular.
Once sold, this site will only be guaranteed to house these households until 2029. Then it can be expected that residents will have to pay a lot of money to move their mobile homes and I think you need to consider where they will move them too.
To base our financial plan on asset sales is, I believe, foolhardy and it is not an approach many in the community will support.
Email, 25 Apr 2021
Sally Jope, Umina Beach