'Cinderalla' reserve should be community land
The reserve known as lots 21-23 Memorial Ave, Blackwall, is a Cinderella reserve.
It doesn't have a spectacular view of the ocean like the Paul Landa Reserve, nor is it in the heart of Woy Woy like Austin Butler.
No, this reserve's location is less desirable.
On one side its neighbour is an unremarkable block of units, and on the other side is a paddock, waiting to become 12 dwellings.
Its frontage, which gives onto an unnamed laneway, serves as a carpark thanks to Council positioning sandstone blocks a vehicle's length away from the boundary.
In 2021, when this reserve was one of a group of Council properties intended to be sold off, many local residents held rallies and signed petitions to save it.
Since then, however, Council has left it in limbo by refusing to maintain it.
Weeds and tree-strangling creepers run riot.
And yet, this reserve is much loved by those of us lucky enough to live nearby.
Its trees, rare remnant of Umina Sand Plain Woodland, grow tall and handsome.
Up in the canopy a family of microbats sleep the days away.
In the background looms the mysterious presence of Blackwall Mountain.
Underneath the weeds lies treasure.
The local indigenous people used this space as a gathering place, and a place to feast on shellfish.
The evidence is all over the reserve, which is a registered midden.
While Council sold off all the other lots on the north side of the laneway, Lots 21-23 remained in its possession.
Being the lowest point in Blackwall, this land was retained as flood mitigation.
During heavy rain, the cars parked along its boundary get bogged down, waterlogged and occasionally written off.
Building units on this reserve, even if that were possible, would be disastrous for the surrounding houses.
The Administrator's avowed aim is to sell it to a developer, which he is able to do because it is classified as operational land.
In order to stop this happening, this reserve should be included in the group of properties whose classification is to be changed to community land.
Email, 1 Feb 2024
Jane Hendy, Blackwall