Park site approved for family centre

THE Derwent Valley Council has approved the use of part of the Ellis Dean Reserve for the development of a Child and Family Centre. The $2 million project is an initiative of the State Goverrnment and will be located next to the Blair St Kindergarten.

It was announced last December that the reserve on Blair St, New Norfolk, had been chosen as the preferred location for the centre. This was done before approval had been received from the council – which has a long-term lease on the reserve and has been negotiating to transfer ownership from the Crown.

A formal request was put to the council at its January council meeting, when councillors voted to defer consideration until further information had been received from the State Government, with particular reference to whether the community had been fully consulted on the change of use for part of the reserve.

At last week’s March council meeting, deputy mayor Craig Farrell said he now had the information he needed and was prepared to support the centre being built at Ellis Dean Reserve. Councillor Damian Bester was next to speak and said he supported the centre but could not support the general manager’s recommendation as the community at large had not been consulted. “We need more places for children to run and play, not less,” he said.

Cr Jim Elliott said he had grown up in Melbourne with very little space to play. He said he did agree with Ellis Dean being the location of the Child and Family Centre but he did not want to jeopardise the centre by voting against the site. “It is more important to have the facility than to lose a small section of the park,” he said. Cr Barry Lathey said the group planning the centre had acted with integrity and he was told community consultation could be done when the devlopment application was lodged. “I think there is ample room for everybody,” he said.

Cr James Graham said he had been involved with the Child and Family Centre proposal from the start and would be voting for it. He agreed that the public would have an opportunity to comment on the use of the park once the development application was lodged. Closing the debate, Cr Farrell said it had been a good discussion. “It comes to us as elected people to make a decision,” he said. He said the public would have its say in the development application process, although he accepted Cr Bester’s comment that it was an adversarial process.

The matter was put to the vote, with all councillors except Cr Judy Bromfield and Cr Bester supporting the general manager’s recommendation to use of part of the Ellis Dean Reserve for the development of a Child and Family Centre. Cr Narelle Hill, who had been an outspoken opponent of the proposal, voted in favour of it without comment. Cr Scott Shaw was absent from the meeting. The general manager’s recommendation specified that the State Government was responsible for any costs involved in transferring the land.

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