In what many Tuross Head residents believe to be "a very wise move" Eurobodalla Council will move at next week's Council meeting to withdraw from their original intent to recategorise land that is an "Area of Cultural Significance" to "Recreational". The Council had audaciously sought to recategorise the land ignoring the NSW Planning Act requirements that required a full independently chaired public hearing to consider such a recategorisation with a full report coming back to Council. Council staff chose to bypass this statutory requirement when they insisted, much to the opposition of the Tuross Head residents, to build a shed for recreational (sailing) purposes on land that, by its category, did not allow such structures. With a pigheadedness to do what they wished Council even set to and began pegging out the site for the shed blatantly ignoring the fact that the exact location they chose is acknowledged as one of the principle archaeological sites for aboriginal artefacts.
When confronted by the community the response was that they would go ahead with the structure and retrospectively "do the paper work". Council's insistence of building the new shed on the site was "justified" by saying that the shed would provide water to the adjacent gardens however it was soon revealed that there was such poor consultation with the community gardeners that they were not aware of the "joint ownership" until Council announced its intentions. Council, cornered and caught out, then came back saying that the adjacent playing field encroached into the Area of Cultural significance by 3m and as such the entire area should be considered recreational to correct the encroachment. When this excuse was produced at a Tuross Head Progress Association meeting it received the belly-laugh it deserved. Unfortunately Council already had a very poor reputation with the Tuross Head community who justifiably held (and continue to hold) a strong distrust of the Council. This began in 2000 with a blatant lie by Council when they moved to reclassify the Kyla Grazing lots with an intent to develop the community land. From there the rot continued with Council stating it was going to sell the old Progress Hall returning the profits of the sale to general revenue until it was revealed that it was the community who owned the land and not Council. It was then discovered that the second community hall at Kyla Oval had been allowed to be ravaged by termites under Council's management that the building, built by the community, was almost condemned. Fortunately the community agreed that $200,000 from the profits of the sale of the old Progress Hall could be directed to repairs on the condition that a 255 Committee be put in place with community members as the distrust of Council's capacity to manage the facility remained. Council has in the past attempted to remove funding from providing annual life guards, stated categorically it would not contribute any funds to the essential dredging required to keep the Tuross Head boat ramp functioning during the peak tourism season and have effectively sold off a community owned foreshore reserve saying with the justification that it was underutilised. The recategorisation of the land at Kyla, by stealth, is just another notch in the stock. The Kyla community land known as the Kyla Grazing lots was long fought for by the community. The issue was bought it to a head and when the Council considered a Report PSR16/022, presented on 28 June 2016, and received detailed written and Public Forum submissions against the construction of a storage shed, and, among other matters, regarding the re-categorise the southern part of Lot 77 DP 260321 from an Area of Cultural Significance to General Community Use. The intent was buried in a document that all but a few would read and it was buried by reference to it's lot and deposited plan number that few would recognise as the Tuross Head community gardens. Next week will see Councillors vote on a staff recommendation to: 1. Retain the existing categorisation of Lot 77 DP 260321 as an Area of Cultural Significance. 2. Retain the current plans of management for Kyla Park Community Lands unchanged and in doing so, remove the need to engage a consultant as an independent chairperson to hold a public hearing. For some in the community this comes with a disappointment as it was hoped that there would be a full, open, independent public hearing as required by the: MINUTES OF THE ORDINARY COUNCIL MEETING OF EUROBODALLA SHIRE COUNCIL HELD ON TUESDAY 28 JUNE 2016 MOTION Councillor Pollock/Councillor Brice THAT: 1. The draft amended plans of management 26 - Kyla Park Community Land – Foreshore Reserves, Parkland and Boat Ramp (2003) and 27 - Kyla Park Community Land - Areas of Cultural Significance (2003) to re-categorise the southern part of Lot 77 DP 260321 from area of cultural significance to general community use be endorsed for exhibition for a period of 28 days and that public submissions be received for a period of 42 days. 2. A consultant be engaged as an independent chairperson to hold a public hearing for the draft plans of management. 3. All submissions received by Council prior to the exhibition period and as part of the exhibition period, be provided to the consultant for his consideration. 4. A further report be received following the receipt of the public hearing report from the independent chairperson on the draft plans of management taking into account all submissions that have been received prior to this process. (The Motion on being put was declared CARRIED. Councillors Leslight and Innes voted against the Motion.) The key question here is why didn't staff do as directed by Council over two years ago? The Tuross Head community will however be pleased to hear that Council have backed away from what was an audacious, obstinate insistence by one staff member that bought the Council and Tuross head residents to loggerheads that has only added further distrust of a council that was already running with a poor report card.