Editorial April 14th 2023
Welcome to this week’s editorial,
“Surplus to need” is an interesting expression and one that is raising the hackles across the shire.
Back in August 2022 our councillors voted to begin the process that could see eleven parcels of land reclassified that they said would “enable potential sale or reflect actual use”.
Council said “The sites include seven small parcels of land that adjacent property owners would like to purchase to formalise driveway access, stabilise banks or increase open space”.
That sounds fair enough. But the next add on they stated is where the proverbial hits the fan:
“Three more lots - located at Malua Bay, South Durras and Broulee– were identified in the Recreation and Open Space Strategy 2018 as surplus to community needs”.
In a nutshell the three sites are destined to be reclassified from community to operational. If approved they can then be sold should it then get through 28 days of public exhibition, followed by a public hearing.
In August 2022 Council’s Director of Planning said the three sites identified from the open space strategy were suitable for housing and would likely be sold to home builders or developers.
“Money from any land sale will either be put back into the open space network or into Council’s real estate development fund, which is allocated for future Council projects as decided by councillors,” he said. That might all sound OK. Sell the land because apparently it is “surplus to need” and put the money into a real estate development fund. We need more affordable housing. Maybe they is what they mean. Or you might be cynical and see the money going into the great black hole that is the Bay Pavilion given that it is part of the “open space network”. But how did we arrive at determining these three blocks of land are “surplus to need”? It turns out that Council had someone drive around and observe if they were being used. Embarrassingly this Surplus Officer drove by Walker Park in Narooma and noted it was empty with the exception of a few trees. “Surplus to need” he declared and it was rolled out for Council’s consideration to sell. Being a prime block it would have brought a pretty penny but a large protest group clearly advising the Council to “leave our effin park alone” along with the revelation that the park was actually gifted to the community saw the Council staff at the time retreat hurriedly. But now, having been told several times that the three key reserves, dedicated to the public, are “surplus to needs” in the opinion of a passing contractor employed by Council to hunt out public owned land that can be sold off. Now we will see history repeat yet again where Councillors will face members of the Durras, Malua Bay and Broulee communities who will do their utmost to say to the councillors that the proposed reserves are NOT surplus to need and are in fact well utilised and doing exactly what they were intended to do—to be a public space. “Surplus to need” is subjective. Here I am semi-retired. Fortunately I still have a purpose in life of providing news. If I didn’t I suppose I might be considered “surplus to need”. Maybe it might be time for the councillors to consider that term and ask “who determines surplus to need”, especially given that they are preparing to halve the number of meetings they are required to attend in a year, and at best, are rubber stamps to Policies and Guidelines that simply require their signature by protocol. If that wasn’t the case then possibly our own councillors might be assessed by a passing consultant as “surplus to need” as well.
Until next lei
Further reading: Walker Park Narooma on the way to great things Is this Council reserve "surplus to use" to be sold - or is it a wildlife corridor as intended Residents Object to Proposed Reclassification of Public Reserve, South Durras Community at Pretty Point, Malua Bay say NO ... again, and again, and again Pretty Point residents meet with councillors over proposed council land grab of a local reserve