Consultation about Austin Butler Reserve opens
Central Coast Council has opened its consultation about the future of the Austin Butler Reserve in the form of an online poll.
The consultation opened on Monday, October 16, the publication date of the last issue of Peninsula News.
It opened without any advanced notice which would have allowed details of the consultation to be published in that issue.
Member for Gosford Ms Liesl Tesch has urged the community to have its say to protect Austin Butler Reserve, "a significant stand of paperbark and she-oak trees next to Peninsula Plaza, Woy Woy".
"The community came together to oppose previous plans to reclassify the reserve from 'community' to 'operational' land, to facilitate the sale of the reserve to Peninsula Plaza, which would result in the destruction of dozens of mature trees.
"Council Administrator Mr Rik Hart resolved on September 26 that Austin Butler Reserve should be removed from the bulk reclassification schedule and community feedback sought on the future of the Reserve."
Ms Tesch said she welcomed Administrator Hart's commitment that the future of this site will be completely guided by the community's response through the formal consultation process.
"Community members are being asked whether they support Austin Butler Reserve remaining under community ownership through Council, or whether a sale to the shopping centre and the destruction of this natural site should proceed, with funds going towards the long-term greening of the local area.
"The temporary removal of Austin Butler Reserve from reclassification prior to community consultation is a huge win for the community, and yet the fight isn't over.
"I firmly believe that investment in greening of our community should not be dependent on the destruction of dozens of mature trees, which are home to native birds and animals.
"I have had hundreds of community members contact my office and sign my community petition.
"It is clear that this issue is of great concern to the community.
"These trees have taken generations to grow and the impact of their removal would be devastating.
"The trees planted through greening projects would take decades to replace the trees at Austin Butler Oval."
Community feedback is being sought through an online poll on the Council website yourvoiceourcoast.com.
"The online poll simply asks the community whether they support Austin Butler Access remaining under the control of Council, or whether a sale to the shopping centre should proceed with the funds going towards the long-term greening of the local area," said Council director Dr Alice Howe.
She said that the online poll is open to all Central Coast residents to have their say.
"Council has been approached by Peninsula Plaza to sell the land to provide improved pedestrian safety and facilitate goods vehicles docking.
"This would require removal of around 20-40 trees.
"It is proposed that the proceeds of the sale be reinvested in a greening program for the Peninsula area over the next 10 years."
Mr Hart said: "The two outcomes of this process are very clear; that the site would either remain under the control of Council, or the sale to the shopping centre would continue and proceeds from the sale would be used to subsequently fund a greening program across the Peninsula.
"The sale of the land could fund more than 8500 trees across the Peninsula region, including sourcing, planting and maintenance to maturity.
"As I have always said, I will be guided by the community's response through Council's community engagement process and strongly encourage everyone to have their say."
In addition to the online community poll, a targeted survey is being concurrently run by an independent company focussed on residents in the local area.
The poll is open until Monday, November 13.
Media release, 16 Oct 2023
Central Coast Council
Media release, 17 Oct 2023
Liesl Tesch, Member for Gosford