Memorial hall at risk in council land sell-off

Wamberal Memorial Hall – dedicated on New Years Day 1921 to the local men who served and lost their lives in World War One.

The Wamberal Action Group has continued its campaign to save the Benjamin Parker Reserve from reclassification and sell-off by Gosford Council that could result in the demolition of the Memorial Hall.

New Save Our Park signs were erected at the Wamberal Memorial Hall and the Benjamin Parker Reserve over the weekend of March 19 and 20. “We have had lots of support from locals as the signs were posted,” said Wamberal Action Group spokesperson, Richard Wells. The Wamberal Action Group joined the broader Save Central Coast Reserves campaign, which was launched in December to raise public awareness of Gosford Council plans to put forward 25 reserves and parks across the local government area for reclassification from community land to operation land.

The reclassification would be a potential first step in the sale of some or all of the reserves and parks identifi ed by Gosford Council as surplus to requirements. Benjamin Parker Reserve on Dover Rd, Lakeview Rd and Prince St, Wamberal has views south over Terrigal and The Skillion. The land was granted to Mr Willoughby Bean in May 1833 and the grant was subdivided into small farms known as the Gosford Model Farms Estate in the 1880s. The declining viability of agriculture after World War II led Benjamin F Parker and Son to subdivide the land and donate the reserve to the community.

The Terrigal-Wamberal Apex Club undertook landscaping, at no cost to the Council, and suggested the gifted reserve be named after its donor, Benjamin Parker. The Wamberal Memorial Hall was built following World War I to commemorate lives lost during the Great War. It was opened on January 1, 1921 by the parliamentarian and King’s Counsel, Mr EJ Loxton LLA. In his opening speech, he expressed satisfaction that the trees had been retained around the building whilst observing that “The beauty of Wamberal is the trees… remove the trees and the charm will be gone.” According to Mr Wells, the Land Titles Off ce has confi rmed that the lot upon which the memorial hall is located is the same lot that is listed for reclassification and sale by Gosford Council. As such, a sale of the land could result in the demolition of the hall, he said.

The hall is currently operated by a management committee, which was informed by an officer of Gosford Council that it was slated for demolition. Mr Wells said he subsequently wrote to Gosford mayor, Cr Lawrie McKinna who responded that the council did not plan to demolish the hall. Coast Community News has asked Gosford Council to confirm its intentions for the future of the Wamberal Memorial Hall. Ms Sue Chidgey, convenor of Save Central Coast Reserves said Gosford Council has confirmed that one of the sites includes Wamberal Memorial Hall, parking area and children’s playground.

“Over 2,000 community members have joined the campaign to stop the council’s money making exercise,” Ms Chidgey said. Other communities campaigning to save their local reserves from reclassification and potential sale also got active to commemorate the United National International Day of Forests on Monday, March 21 by wrapping some of the trees in the local reserves and parks with brightlycoloured sashes. Nine of the communities fighting to keep the current community classification for reserves and parks at: Yarrum Rd Reserve at Bensville, Delaware Rd, Niagara Park; and the East Gosford Reserve, took time out on the weekend of March 19 and 20 to wrap some of their trees on colourful sashes.

Email, Mar 20, 2016 Richard Wells, Wamberal Action Group Email, Mar 17, 2016 Sue Chidgey, Save Central Coast Reserves Website, Mar 21, 2016 Wamberal Action Group Save Central Coast Reserves Jackie Pearson, journalist