Thursday, December 24, 2009

I can tell you this much...

IT took two and a half hours but we finally developed an appropriate process for the proposed sale of the Willow Court oval and adjacent buildings during our closed council meeting on Monday night. And, in a first, I was able to convince fellow councillors to legally reveal at least a little of what went on. My motion "That the council make public the decision of this closed meeting" was apparently too much to take and failed for want of a seconder, but kudos to Councillor Jim Elliott who successfully moved a watered-down motion "that the council put out to the public the decision to put the oval precinct out to tender". This was seconded by Cr Craig Farrell, and was supported by all councillors but me (I abstained because the motion did not reveal as much as I wanted to).

Anyhow, what this means is that an earlier, secret, decision to sell the oval to a supermarket developer has now been withdrawn. Next month the council will call for tenders for the sale of the oval and the building complex known as Derwent, Esperance, Glenora and Franklin Houses. Personally I am not in favour of selling any part of Willow Court, but it is clear that the funds raised from any sale will help to preserve and promote the real gem of that site, our barrack square. This is a convict site second to none in Tasmania, and yet it is neglected by both the council and the state government, both of which stand condemned for their neglect.

I could be charged with breaching the Local Government Act if I told you too much of what went on at the meeting. However, I said something along these lines:

  • The shoddy process followed so far by the council in the proposed sale of the council showed that nothing had been learned since the council's original (botched) subdivision of the Willow Court site
  • Once again the council had rushed to sell property without having a long-term, strategic and holistic plan for the whole site
  • Once again a sale had been proposed without an appropriate property title or even a clear picture of what the council was selling
  • Inappropriate buildlings had been sold in past and the council will most likely have to buy them back once Willow Court gets going as a tourist attraction
  • The council's ill-considered sale of other parts of the site (including roads and footpaths) had left only one possible car parking area, and now this area could be lost
  • I successfully gained agreement that the car park on The Avenue not be offered for sale
  • The Willow Court conservation management plan says the buildings known as Derwent, Esperance, Glenora and Franklin Houses cannot be demolished (some councillors thought they could be pulled down).

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