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NLC flags parkland purchase

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Chris OldfieldNaracoorte Community News

Ratepayers might be called on to fund part or all of the North Parklands by the Naracoorte Lucindale Council which will explore options to purchase it.

The idea sprouted from a CEO recommendation moved by Cr Monique Crossling, seconded by Cr Tom Dennis, and supported by most councillors.

But a final decision will rest with the next elected council, along with whether or not to harvest the pines or develop the area. But for now, the parklands will remain as they are.

The idea for a possible purchase was one of six recommendations regarding the North Parklands presented to council’s August 23 meeting.

It was the last meeting before council slips into caretaker mode for the 2022 SA council elections.

In a verbal report to the meeting, Mr Smart highlighted the recent “extensive community engagement process”. That included 396 anonymous survey responses, of which 255 – 64 percent – said “no” to a development.

“We then held a council briefing a couple of weeks ago to consider further that community feedback, and what council matters we should be considering,” Mr Smart said.

That included current land availability, where land is currently available and some of the possible future subdivisions “that are appropriately zoned”.

Although there was no agenda or minutes available from the “briefing”, Mr Smart explained five of the final six recommendations.

They were included in an 11 page report by himself, director planning and compliance Paul McRostie and manager engagement and community Jayne Miller.

Their lengthy report – including details of a possible 169 future parcels of land that might become available – can be found in the council’s August agenda.

Council’s six final resolutions: –

  1. Retain the current North Parklands as it is “with no change to current land use and dedications”.
  2. Provide comment to State Government 1.) that council is not supportive of “the unsolicited development proposal” and “for existing community use of the North Parklands to be retained”. 2.) provide the government with the correspondence regarding the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo Recovery Team and Native Orchid Society, “in addition to the council’s full community consultation report”.
  3. Undertake further discussion with the government “to explore information on possible purchase of all or part of North Parklands”, including cost, sale conditions and “other matters”.
  4. Undertake a masterplan for the North Parklands. To be included in the next council’s 2023/24 budget considerations and include further community engagement.
  5. Thank the community for “the extensive feedback provided to council” and offer a statement of council’s position “to the general community”.
  6. That Council seeks “a suitably qualified consultant” to do a full biological survey – involving both flora and fauna – of the North Parklands, to provide a baseline understanding of the area’s natural values.

The debate

In favour of the first resolution for the parklands to remain as they are, Cr Julie Earl said she wanted to “speak from my notes and from my heart”.

“This issue was raised mainly because we do have a serious problem to address which is how to deal with the pine plantations,” Cr Earl said.

“So, we can say that we just want it left, the whole area left as it is, but that can’t happen.”

She said at some point the pines needed to be harvested, and “we need to decide what we are going to do with that land.”

Cr Earl referred to her book of notes involving consultation and said there were only 15 lines of “the pro’s for development”, but 153 pages of comments “in favour of native vegetation and pine forest”.

After speaking for a further five minutes about the comments, Cr Earl highlighted how she would feel if the pines and native vegetation were replaced with housing where she lived.

Cr Craig McGuire seconded the motion, said he supported Cr Earl and council’s consultation, and the motion was carried.

No other councillor commented.

The second motion referred to council’s rejection of developer Robert Moore’s proposal as its comment to the State Government.

Mayor Erika Vickery said the second motion followed on from the first. Cr McGuire moved it, Cr Crossling seconded it.

Cr McGuire asked for an addition to the motion regarding Black Cockatoos and orchids, which was supported and the two part motion was carried.

The third recommendation to explore information for the purchase of part or all of the parklands was moved and seconded by Crs Crossling and Dennis.

“Through the course of this issue and public consultation, it is certainly a welcome (change) to see the community so engaged with an issue,” Cr Dennis said.

No other councillor commented.

The motion was carried, and Mrs Vickery introduced the fourth recommendation, moved by Cr McGuire, seconded by Cr Shultz which referred to a masterplan for the North Parklands.

Cr Earl asked what the process would entail, and Mr Smart said it was “exploring where and what and how”.

Cr Crossling indicated the council could spend $40,000 on a masterplan, “and we don’t end up owning that piece of land because the State Government can do what they like”. She spoke against the council spending money on something it did not own.

Mr Smart said council undertook masterplans on “quite a bit of land that we don’t own”, and it was for a future council to decide whether to put money into its 2023-24 budget, and follow the process.

Cr McGuire also spoke in favour of the masterplan, but no other councillors.

Mrs Vickery called for a vote, it was carried and she read out the fifth motion which was to thank the community and issue a statement about the council’s position.

Only Cr Earl commented, and asked Mr Smart what avenues were to be used for communicating “so we get our optimum coverage of the truth”.

Mr Smart said he hoped to use council’s normal processes, adding there were “two newspapers in the town that we could potentially use”.

[Before the first edition of The News ever went to print, the council chose not to be helpful or share information regarding positive stories relating to the Visitor Information Centre, and the Caves Trail. Council’s choice to ignore 5000 readers and disregard repeated requests from The News has continued for weeks, months, and now 2.5 years.]

A final motion by Cr McGuire calling for “a contractor to do a full biological survey of flora and fauna of the North Parklands”, seconded by Cr Earl resulted in a 10 minute discussion before it was finally carried, without an amendment by Cr Damien Ross for costings.

Naracoorte Community News 31 August 2022

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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