Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bye-Bye Bogey Hole

The Herald identified the Lands Department’s real agenda for Crown Land Reserves when it stated that “authorities would be unwilling to spend money on repairs (at the Bogey Hole) with no prospect of financial return” (H, 24/12).

The Department uses spin and PR terms like “tourism, revitalise, attract investment,” but it’s all part of a strategy for a massive sell-off across the State that’s been occurring since the Carr Government days and it has accelerated since the 2007 election.

Ironically only about a week ago a Sydney newspaper magazine featured the Bogey Hole as one of the State’s iconic ocean pools and a tourist attraction.

The selloff ranges from high conservation value natural areas to playing fields and urban parks; and including Coffs Harbour, Wollongong (Killalea State park), Leichhardt, Port Macquarie and many other places. Commitments to add land to national parks have also been reneged on.

The coastal plan for Newcastle includes high rise apartments on Tramway Reserve, a pocket park and breathing space between high rise and the Ocean Baths in historic Newcastle East(what’s that got to do with tourism?); and the commercialisation of part of Empire Park. Public open space areas are soft targets.

Since the last election, Lands Minister Kelly has reneged on his commitment to consolidate Merewether Surf House’s (MSH) land tiles to offer a long term lease with a heritage agreement. Now this sensitive site is targeted for a massive commercial redevelopment.

The Bowling Club site adjacent to King Edward Park is to have a restaurant/reception centre on land Newcastle Council asked to be returned to parkland in 2002. They were ignored.

The Lands Department claims any income will be used to fund other Crown land management/improvements in the region. I’ll wager, however, that none will be used to help maintain King Edward Park or the Bogey Hole.

In essence, this State Government is flogging off to private developers, land that the community values and uses for social, cultural, recreational, environmental reasons. What a disgrace!

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