Land sale input sought

March 21, 2018

Wish granted: Cobram Barooga Apex club members Lachlan McColl, Brad Sneddon, Luke Rawson, Adrian Salter, Brennan Edgar and Matthew Betts near a building at the Apex Caravan Park, with the Apex name embedded in the bricks.

After more than a year spent lobbying intently, Cobram Barooga Apex Club has been granted its wish to see the sale of the now-defunct Cobram Caravan Park become open to public submissions and consultation.

The initial notice of motion put forward by Moira Shire Council at the most recent council meeting on February 28 was the authorisation to issue public notice of intention to sell the land where the former Cobram Caravan Park sits.

The move to bring the public into play came specifically off the back of point one of the motion put forward by councillors Garry Cleveland and John Beitzel — which was authorising the commencement of community consultation in accordance with the Local Government Act (S223).

The initial motion put forward by councillors Cleveland and Beitzel was lost, with Cr Wendy Buck arguing vehemently that council should undertake extended community consultation to assess future options for the balance of the caravan site rather than simply brushing over the matter.

The final motion passed was clear on that fact that the Cobram Outdoor Pool does not form part of the land proposed for sale.

The final motion put forward by councillors Peter Lawless and Peter Mansfield eventually carried after close to half an hour of vigorous debate among councillors.

It has certainly been a drawn-out process in coming to this juncture, with the council first voting in favour of the sale of the caravan in April 2015. The park officially closed in August 2016, with the land it previously occupied considered surplus to the council’s needs.

The chance for community groups and individuals to lodge submissions into the matter will begin in the coming weeks.

One point that is worth noting is the phrase ‘‘intention to sell’’ in the motion. It appears in all likelihood the land will be sold and the council seems intent on making sure that is the case — but there is now the opportunity for members of the public to voice any concerns or ideas they might have.

If required, a Committee Council comprising all councillors and the general manager of infrastructure will convene to hear any person wishing to be heard in support of their written submission.

The consultation process will seek community views on council’s intention to dispose of land. The actual sale of the land is a separate and subsequent process that might change in response to the feedback received through the consultation process.

Cobram Barooga Apex Club representative Adrian Salter said he was pleased the community would now have the opportunity to have a say on the matter before any sale might take place.

‘‘Largely what the Apex Club is looking for is to retain the land right in the middle of town for public use — whatever they might be in the future — and this decision at least gives that a chance to happen,’’ Mr Salter said.

The caravan park was completed in 1962 by the Apex Club and a lot of it was dug by hand. Initially it functioned as a railway easement through the middle of town before being turned into a caravan park.

It was one of the first major projects the Apex Club undertook and Mr Salter said the park’s historical connection to the club and the reason why it was built in the first place should not be overlooked by council.

“It was built to benefit the community and I guess one of the things we definitely feel strongly about is the fact there is a lot of community equity and volunteer equity that needs to be looked at; and basically, more than anything, the land is a part of Cobram that needs to be kept for some kind of community use,’’ he said.

Mr Salter said the club was steadfast in its belief that the land can be utilised for a project that would benefit the entire community as opposed to being sold to a private property developer.

‘‘We want to see it kept for future projects that might happen in Cobram, whether that means possibly a bigger aquatic centre or a splash park that Cobram badly needs for its tourism.

‘‘The Apex Club will be putting in submissions and we will ask for community support to put in their own submissions on what they want to see happen,’’ Mr Salter said.

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