Not for sale…yet

COUNCILLOR Judith Burfoot promised Queanbeyan residents that she’d ensure they would have a say in the sale of a block of community-owned land on McKeahnie St, Crestwood when the matter was raised at the last council meeting of the year on Wednesday night.

The on-again, off-again sale of the former childcare and community centre at 7-9 McKeahnie Street was flagged in May this year when council resolved to rezone the site as operational land, paving the way for a future sale.

At the time, mayor Tim Overall said the rezoning did not mean Council was committed to selling the land to developers, and would keep an “open mind” as to how the site could be best used if he was re-elected later in the year.

The matter turned up again on Wednesday night, tucked away at the back of the agenda in an information report prepared by council staff.

The report stated that “once the development applications to subdivide the…properties have been issued, it is intended that all land will be placed on the market and sold by public auction. This is currently proposed for the first quarter of 2013.”

That prompted Crestwood resident and local Greens member Katrina Willis to make a spirited argument for keeping the site in community hands, to be used as a community centre and public park in a presentation prior to the meeting.

She said Crestwood was the fastest-growing area in Queanbeyan and needed to retain its community facilities for a growing population.

“This is an area with a very high density that’s growing monthly,” Ms Willis said.

“We see very little investment in public and community facilities for all the Section 94 developer contributions that flow in to council from there.

“It’s extremely unfair…there’s very little community space in our part of Queanbeyan,” she said.

Ms Willis called for a deferral in any sale plans to allow for community consultation on the matter.

However deputy mayor Peter Bray said he wasn’t aware of any widespread community support for retaining the site.

“My recollection of this particular site in regard to its non-use…it’s my understanding that during that period of time there’s been no generation from the community for its increased use,” he said.

General Manager Gary Chapman then informed councillors that, despite an information report that stated council intended to put the land on the market early next year, the purpose of the report was to inform councillors of the successful reclassification of the land.

A final decision on its sale would be made by councillors at a meeting early next year, he said.

Cr Burfoot said she’d advocate for further community consultation on the sale when it appeared before council next year.

In a statement to the

Queanbeyan Age

on Thursday, Cr Overall reiterated no final decision had been made on the matter.

“7-9 McKeahnie has been reclassified in the new LEP to ‘Operational Land’ and Council has yet to determine its future.

“There was only one submission during the public consultation process on the Draft LEP and from the Queanbeyan-Monaro Greens. There are a number of options to be considered including the possibility of disposal. Katrina Willis, reasonably, has a self-interest position,” Cr Overall said.

Queanbeyan city councillors will decided the fate of this former community centre in McKeahnie Street early next year.

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