Council to divest itself of parks

CHOPPING BLOCK: One of the small parks Lismore Council may sell off in Lismore.
CHOPPING BLOCK: One of the small parks Lismore Council may sell off in Lismore.

SMALL parks scattered throughout Lismore are set to be sold off with Lismore City Council voting to prepare 18 parks for potential sale at Tuesday night's meeting.

The parks will be rezoned from public recreational use to residential, allowing them to be sold to neighbouring landowners or developers.

A council staff report noted the parks earmarked for sale were too steep or small or lacked easy access to be worth the ongoing maintenance costs.

"The proliferation of very small pocket parks as opposed to a well planned network of strategically located, larger parks creates a greater maintenance burden for council with lower recreation benefits," the 2011-2021 Sport and Recreation Plan read.

Most of them are leftovers from the days when developers were required to set aside small portions of land for public use - and often left the least attractive land.

Given the council's challenging financial position and the opportunity to reduce its maintenance costs, there was little debate against the staff recommendation to rezone and sell the parks.

"As a council we cannot continue to look after sometimes rubbishy bits of land at great cost of the community," Cr Neil Marks said.

Cr Marks said it was the second time the council had an opportunity to divest itself of the parks after a similar review several years ago, and maybe this time would have the "backbone".

The move could also be controversial with those whose properties back on to the pocket parks.

Former East Lismore resident Julie Short, who relocated to Modanville some years ago, recalled many fond memories of her children in the park that their Atlas St residence backed on to.

"Why not create a little secret park trail, which people can go and visit?" Ms Short said.

"Or we could turn them into community gardens - imagine an urban food bowl.

"That's what happens in Germany and that's what happens in London.

"I think one of the things about Lismore is it doesn't sell itself very well… we've got some wonderful things here that are not valued.

"When you go to towns that are interesting, they've often taken a negative and turned it into a positive."

Greens councillor Vanessa Ekins also took exception to the future sale of a 5200sq m parcel of land adjacent to Rotary Park on McKenzie St, due to a resident bat population using the land as a "flight path".

"I'd like some answers to some questions about what kind of tools can we use if we are looking at developments in the park to protect access for the bats to the site," Cr Ekins said.

Topics:  lismore city council

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