While the $500,000 sticker price for the transfer of a piece of public land is pretty outrageous, we would hope Council can negotiate a mutually-satisfactory outcome with VicTrack. A long-term lease (five years? Seriously?!) seems sensible, we don't want to be back to square one in five years' time. This disrespects everybody's time and efforts in seeking resolution.
Cr Tsitas' label of 'dud land' is pretty harsh, even in the context of development. The proposed sale/lease affects not just this visible corner site, but also the bushland along the bridge and Merri Creek. As a gateway site to Darebin, we need to celebrate the land, and can do so much better than a liberal scattering of utility hydrants, eroding soils and a decrepit, non-functioning, drinking fountain memorial to a Northcote Councillor c. 1932. Could we bring this long-neglected site back to life with some restorative landscaping and amenity, please?
Darebin Council will be holding an election shortly, and we seek Councillors who will work productively with the State and help us set a progressive agenda for our local open space.
See recent developments in the 10 August 2016 edition of the Northcote Leader , reproduced here to keep the link active:
COUNCIL KNOCKS BACK PARK SALE OFFER - Harrison Tippet
THE FATE of a hectare of land owned by VicTrack and used as a public park for decades is still up in the air.
Darebin councillors last week voted to refuse offers to purchase the land at the banks of the Merri Creek for $500,000 or to lease it for five years at $300 a year.
Councillors instead voted to continue advocating for the land – at the intersection of St Georges Rd and Merri Parade – to be permanently protected at no cost to the council. “This land is owned by Victorian taxpayers, and as a result why should the community pay twice for something that they already own?” Cr Gaetano Greco said. “As Darebin residents we already own this land via the State Government.”
Cr Angela Villella labelled the sale of the land a “money grab” by VicTrack.
Councillors in January voted to ask that the land be made a Crown Reserve, and that the council be made a Committee of Management for the site, allowing it to maintain the parkland without buying it.
Community members fear the site could be sold for development if not protected. Merri Community Group convener Mike Flattley said the council and VicTrack needed to come to a compromise to protect the land without drawing out the process. “I support that we shouldn’t be spending an enormous amount of the City of Darebin’s budget on the transfer of land,” Mr Flattley said.
“I think we need to look at something like a 90 to 100 year lease arrangement. A small lease, like the nominal amount of $300 a year, might be a way of keeping everybody happy as long as we’re looking at a longer timescale so we’re not wasting everyone’s time again in five years.”
Cr Steven Tsitas rubbished suggestions the land could be sold to developers, claiming no developer could build on the “dud land”.