Austin Butler reserve sale not recommended by staff
Central Coast Council staff have recommended that Council Administrator Mr Rik Hart resolve not to sell Austin Butler reserve land at tomorrow night's council meeting.
They have also recommended that he reverse the council's decision of July 2021 to reclassify the land as "operational", which would leave it as "community land".
The recommendation in the meeting agenda follows a "community consultation process" about the sale.
The process included a 28-day online poll on the Council yourvoiceourcoast.com website and a public opinion poll conducted by Tuggerah market research firm Micromex.
The online poll showed a 92 per cent preference (1455 responses) to retain the site in council ownership, with only eight per cent (126 responses) preferring the sale to proceed to fund an extensive street tree planting program.
At the council's September meeting, Mr Hart had resolved to seek feedback on whether a triangle of reserve land adjacent to the Peninsula Plaza shopping centre should be sold to the shopping centre or not.
The staff report for tomorrow's council meeting states: "The Administrator ... committed Council to allocate the proceeds of the sale (should it proceed) to the greening of the local community, for example, via an extensive street tree planting program that is aligned with Council's Greener Places Strategy."
The Micromex survey of 202 randomly-selected local residents "from Australian marketing lists" found that more than two-thirds (69 per cent) were supportive of an extensive street tree planting program, but were evenly divided on the sale of the land for the purpose, according to the council staff report.
Less than one in seven (13 per cent) were not supportive of "an extensive tree planting program".
The selection of residents was weighted so that half of those surveyed were from Woy Woy or Blackwall.
"In summary, the independent community survey does not provide conclusive evidence either way as to whether or not a clear majority of the local community favours sale or retention," the council staff report states.
"It tends to suggest that Council may need to provide further information and guidance about the alternative options before a clear majority either way can be established.
"The independent community survey does appear to provide clear evidence that the community in and round the Peninsula is in favour of more street tree planting and in general favours green spaces."
The report states: "The current and future provision of trees and green spaces is a key driver for community views, both for those who favour retention and for those who favour sale.
"Trust issues also feature, either because of lack of trust that Council will spend the sale proceeds appropriately or lack of trust that another entity will manage the land in the future in the way that the community would want."
According to the report, "Council has received over 25 letters expressing support for the retention of the Austin Butler Reserve Access land in Council ownership from residents and community groups.
"Council has also received seven letters expressing support for the sale of the Austin Butler Reserve Access from shopping centre tenants and from businesses that supply services to the Peninsula Plaza shopping centre."
These included one from Woolworths, which according to the report included comments that:
"Woolworths is supportive of the sale of land to the owners of the plaza as it will improve the safety concerns that have been raised by both customers and team members.
"Woolworths has engaged an independent consultant to provide an audit of the carpark with the results to be shared with Council as soon as they are available."
Central Coast Council agenda 2.6, 28 Nov 2023