Residents protest sell-off
A GROUP of Venus Bay residents is ready to mobilise against any moves by South Gippsland Shire Council to sell off land in the town.
The stance follows a similar one by Leongatha South residents, who have vowed to fight to save the Leongatha South Public School site.
Council owns almost 450 properties, but only some would be sold under a possible assets sell-off.
Of 21 properties on an initial list that could be sold under council’s planned Land Realisation Project, seven are in Venus Bay, with five listed as reserves.
The properties are on Fishermans Road, June Court, Margaret Avenue, McMillan Avenue, Neil Street, Noble Street and Juno Road.
Another is at nearby River Drive in Tarwin.
Before their sale, reserves would have to have their “reservation status” changed.
Council estimates that the sale of the 21 properties, likely to take place during a two year period, would net it more than $2.2 million. The entire sales program would take between six and seven years, with more properties to be named and sold in the future.
Council property manager Chris Van Der Ark recently told The Star that money from the sales would not be used to help clear council’s $4.6 million superannuation debt. She believes reports in the paper about the property plan misrepresented what council was trying to do.
“The proceeds will go to fund other community projects. We are the major business provider in the region and we have to operate with that in mind,” she said.
Neither would the fears of one councillor, who believes small communities would lose properties but see no material benefit, come to fruition, she said.
“We’re looking at properties that are not being used for a community benefit; ageing facilities that cost too much to look after. This is about providing better facilities, and we need to have some give and take,” she said.
“We certainly won’t be selling those properties that provide a benefit to the community. We have every intention on beginning consultation on property sales. But we need to mindful that we are a small population with a large shire.”
Recent council documents said the sales would “provide a financial return to council and the community”.
But town-proud women say if any of the properties on the list were sold off Venus Bay would be worse for it, with a collective belief that money from the sales would be spent elsewhere.
“All the money goes to Leongatha. And besides, we want parks for our kids. The town’s growing and we need space for our kids. Down here we don’t get the progress that we want. I’m concerned council will burn that money somewhere else, not here,” local resident Roseley Pedley said.
“If we don’t do something about it, well they’re just going to run us over and take our money.”
Another Venus Bay resident Kylie Laing said the sale of the land would be detrimental to the town, because it served as a buffer against ever-encroaching development.
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