THESE are my speech notes from last week's council meeting, on the topic of locating the proposed Child and Family Centre on Ellis Dean Reserve at New Norfolk.
"Mr Mayor, we are indeed fortunate that the State Government wishes to establish a Child and Family Centre in the Derwent Valley. Sadly, I cannot support the general manager's recommendation to approve part of Ellis Dean Reserve as the location of this centre.
"I acknowledge the efforts of the Local Enabling Group and the comprehensive work it has undertaken in consulting with stakeholders in the 0-5 years target group, but by its own admission the group has not consulted the community at large.
"It was entirely correct for the group to address its specific audience while considering potential sites for the centre, but more extensive consultation was required once a park was chosen as the preferred location.
"This has not happened, and a suggestion that the council canvas public opinion was rejected by the leaders of group. Instead, it is proposed that the public have its say once the development application has been lodged - an adversarial process which could create another 'them and us' conflict.
"After the recent controversy over the proposed McDonald's, it is unfortunate that we may be setting ourselves up for a dispute over what has been called empty land at Ellis Dean Reserve. It is not vacant land - it is a park. It belongs to the whole community and the whole community should be given its say in this proposal to remove 2000 square metres of this park from public use.
"Ellis Dean Reserve is an important playground both for people who live in the area and others who travel from other parts of the town and beyond. In the midst of a so-called obesity epidemic, we need more places for young people to run and play, not less.
"Of course, it may be that the whole community agrees this is the perfect location for a Child and Family Centre, but at present this has not been tested and in the absence of full consultation I cannot support this recommendation."
Despite voting against the location, I support the proposed centre and wish its committee well as it progresses its plans.