Lismore resident Peter Bellew is furious that Lismore City Council has reneged on a promise to ratepayers, made almost 10 years ago, that Crozier Field would remain open for community use.
On Tuesday Council voted for a new Draft Plan of Management for Lismore Park to go on public exhibition. It includes a proposal to lock Crozier Field during the day to curb vandalism, which Peter says is a major backflip.
In 1998 we thought we had a commitment from Council that the oval would remain open. Now theyve gone back on their word, he said. Its an enormous betrayal of ratepayers.
The saga began in 1995 when a dispute erupted between residents and Council over the construction of a football stadium at Crozier Field. The matter eventually went to court with residents claiming Council had failed to advertise the development or notify the residents.
Council admitted they had not complied with the law, but the courts gave them a stay of execution and ordered Council to develop a Plan of Management, which they did in 1997.
Eventually the football stadium was built despite continuing objections from residents about the validity of the development.
During the final court showdown in 1998 Council made a promise to residents that Crozier Field would remain open for public use during the day.
On Tuesday, Cr Ros Irwin spoke against the Plan of Management, largely because the Crozier Field proposal remained in the document.
When we went ahead with the development of Crozier Field one of the conditions was the gates would be open to the public from sunup till sundown every day. I think this proposal betrays the community, Cr Irwin said. Its a sad day, and were closing off a very important piece of the park used regularly by the community.
Cr Chant said sporting groups were concerned about syringes being left on the oval, and suggested perhaps Cr Irwin would like to come down and pick them up before a sporting event.
But Cr Irwin was not moved.
If you want to close down Crozier Field for that reason how about we close down every street in Lismore. Its nonsense, said Cr Irwin. If sportspeople are concerned about picking up the needles, they should ask the North Coast Area Health Service to do it, as they are obliged to clean them up.
Peter says its now up to residents to fight the closure of Crozier Field.
Ive been trying to keep this oval open for 11 years and Council is underestimating the value of this land within the local community, Peter said. The only way to stop this happening is for people to make strong objections while the Plan of Management is on display.
The Lismore Park Draft Plan of Management will now go on public exhibition for 42 days. It will be available for viewing at Councils Goonellabah and CBD offices.
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