According to Item 9.11 of the current agenda, Council has been offered $350,000 and $25,000 per annum in order to become the Committee of Management for the land at the top of Glen Eira/Booran Roads.  This land featured in the notorious ‘land swap’ between the Government and the Melbourne Racing Club and was to be established as a ‘public park’. Council’s position has been that it will not accept the land because of its poor access, size, lack of adequate ‘surveillance’, etc. The land was returned to the government once council refused.

Now we find:

  • That clearly some secret deal has been made between the Department, the MRC, and council – to the exclusion of the public
  • Council is willing to renege on its previous position for the meagre sum of $350,000 – (far from the true value of the land)

The officer’s report contains these recommendations. That council –

authorises officers to meet with DELWP to negotiate favourable conditions for Council’s use of the land, including clarity on the type of recreation facilities that could be incorporated onto the site

Potential for the site to be rezoned in future for other uses, without a nett reduction in open space across the municipality;

Plus these paragraphs:

This reserve has previously been offered to, and refused by Council, with Council’s previous position on the land swap arrangement being that any land should be of equivalent value and made available for public use. In the original offer to Council, the (then) Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) had stipulated that the land had to be utilised as public open space.

The new offer from DELWP still states the condition that the reserve is to be used for public recreation purposes. However, officers understand that the current offer is potentially open for discussion on the restrictions, which enables other options for discussion on use of the land

Even more disconcerting is this paragraph –

A current offer has been made of the land of $350,000 to develop it and approximately $25,000 per annum to use to maintain it. This will be inadequate to deliver a quality open space. However, it will be enough to ensure that Council is notdisadvantaged by taking on the reserve in the short term, and will enable Council to implement some potential low cost temporary uses for the space.

Thus, we have the situation where ‘short term’ expediency trumps long term planning and the carrot of $350,000 is sufficient for council to sell its soul! Plus, we certainly do know that once council implements something, then it is almost impossible to change!

It is obvious that discussions have already occurred and will continue. This does not provide justification for a report that is so vague and so uninformative on an issue which has featured prominently for years and years.