Re­vealed: For­mer coun­cil­lor says money beats so­cial good

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Doug Con­way

A FOR­MER Pen­rith Greens coun­cil­lor has crit­i­cised a pi­lot pro­gram to sell “sur­plus” re­cre­ation land in Ersk­ine Park for devel­op­ment.

Michelle Tormey has de­scribed the move by Pen­rith Coun­cil as a tri­umph of money over so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

She was the only coun­cil­lor to ar­gue against the mo­tion at the coun­cil’s Septem­ber 5 meet­ing, be­moan­ing the loss of pub­lic space.

Nine parks in Ersk­ine Park are be­ing con­sid­ered for full or po­ten­tial sale. Un­der the model, sale pro­ceeds could fund park im­prove­ments.

PEN­RITH Coun­cil’s move to sell “sur­plus” coun­cil land for devel­op­ment in an Ersk­ine Park pi­lot project has been slammed as a tri­umph of money over so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns.

For­mer Greens coun­cil­lor Michelle Tormey said she was con­cerned the move could make Pen­rith look too much like jam-packed in­ner Syd­ney.

“The money trumped other con­sid­er­a­tions,” said Ms Tormey, who was the lone dis­sent­ing vote against the move in coun­cil be­fore los­ing her seat at the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

“I be­lieved it would re­sult in a loss of pub­lic space.

“We are a growth area and we are be­com­ing ever more ur­banised.

“You can see how lit­tle green space there is in Syd­ney’s in­ner city.”

Pen­rith Coun­cil has voted to re­clas­sify and re­zone some land in Ersk­ine Park from pub­lic re­cre­ation to low-den­sity res­i­den­tial.

It has al­lo­cated $2.65 mil­lion to ad­vance an open space mas­ter­plan iden­tify- ing “po­ten­tially sur­plus” open space land which could be con­sid­ered for sale to fund park im­prove­ments.

This model would be rolled out to other sub­urbs in com­ing years, its end-of­term re­port said.

Dilga, Spoon­bill and Reg­u­lus re­serves have been iden­ti­fied for po­ten­tial sale.

Phoenix, Pa­cific, Chameleon, Spica, Capella and Sen­nar Rd re­serves have been iden­ti­fied for pos­si­ble par­tial sale.

The mas­ter­plan was amended to re­tain War­bler and Aquarius re­serves fol­low­ing com­mu­nity feed­back show­ing 53 per cent of res­i­dents in favour and 47 per cent against.

Ms Tormey said she un­der­stood the coun­cil’s ef­forts to raise money to prove it was “fit for the fu­ture” and avoid amal­ga­ma­tion.

But she said the sur­plus land is­sue should be about more than money.

“Just be­cause there’s not a play­ground on a piece of coun­cil land doesn’t mean it’s not use­ful, or won’t be in the fu­ture,” she said.

you can see how lit­tle green space there is in syd­ney’s in­ner city. We should not be risk­ing that Michelle Tormey

Net­ballers at Chameleon Re­serve, Ersk­ine Park, in 2014 and (be­low) the park is well used through its net­ball courts, toi­lets and carpark.

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