Lack of transparency in public land sell-off process is unacceptable

A local park slated for sale.

I am writing as a concerned resident of Gosford to register my disapproval regarding the proposed reclassification and sell off of various parcels of our public land.

I don’t profess to be an expert in political processes and for this reason I have put quite a bit of research into this issue. For the life of me I cannot understand why a majority of councillors have supported this seemingly haphazard proposal. The lack of community consultation is astounding, hence I have found information hard to come by. I have asked council to provide me with the list of criteria by which each of these lots were chosen. I have been shocked and saddened to learn the many differing circumstances by which some of these lots became public land in the fi rst instance.

I am quite literally dumbfounded to find lots of bequeathed and donated community land, and even a lot comprising of a WWI memorial hall, are now listed for intended sale by Gosford Council. Even with issues of seriously questionable morality aside, surely this cannot be legally acceptable? I note that the lands identified under this proposal were deemed to have “limited use to the council or the community”. I have asked Gosford Council to clarify on what basis this was determined. From the vast outpour of public support, I would suggest that the importance and value of these lands to the community has been hugely underestimated.

I might also suggest that had adequate community consultation been established from the outset, then this blanket statement of “limited community value” would have been proven to be completely unfounded. It would appear to me that the exhaustive consumption of time and energy of many concerned residents could have been entirely avoided. To say that the seemingly backward approach by Council to this “Land Sale Strategy” has been disappointing would be a gross understatement. As a community member, I most defi nitely feel that we deserve better from those elected to represent us.

I have asked council to explain to me what environmental factors have been taken into consideration when shortlisting these parcels of land for intended reclassifi cation or sale. I have witnessed many local groups emerging in support of their individual parcels of land. Many of these groups are seeking to obtain ecological reports examining the signifi cance and array of fl ora and fauna which inhabit the very land which Council is threatening. I would hope that thorough environmental studies were undertaken on all lots before they were earmarked by our Council as suitable for possible sale. Am I wrong in thinking that extensive environmental impact analysis should be considered a responsibility of the Council, rather than that of the ratepayer?

I have asked council where I can obtain the fi ndings of any/all environmental reports undertaken by the Council which found these lands to be suitable for reclassifi cation or sale. I am very proud to be fi ghting for both our environment and for future generations to be able to enjoy our beautiful Central Coast reserves and green spaces. Even if that “only” means a common ground to meet up with friends and fl y a kite, kick a ball or ride a bike. Even if it’s “only” a place to escape the daily grind, or to explore and witness some of our amazing native animals in their natural environment, as my young son loves to do.

Can we really put a price on these things? I can only hope that my passion for this issue instils in all of my children a strong desire and willingness to fi ght for our environment and for our local area when it is unjustly threatened. There is little more important to me than my family and the ecological sustainability of our Mother Earth. It drives home the importance of lessons that I learnt in primary school; “Think Global, Act Local”. I refuse to stand by and watch this precious local land be hastily sold off for what appears to be nothing more than a quick buck.

Email, Jan 26, 2016 Kahley Geary, Narara

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