A small 'pocket park' in a suburban part of Goulburn is a peaceful place for Lynne Makin.
She takes her grandchildren and other family members to Albert Park at Ifield to play. Sometimes she just sits and listens to the birds and the nesting plovers she's come to know in two well established trees.
"It's used, it's peaceful, quiet and relaxing. It's green space," Ms Makin told The Post.
She was one of nine people who spoke either formally or informally at a public hearing on Thursday night about the proposed reclassification of three council land parcels.
The council wants to reclassify half of Albert Park (850 square metres), 4.7 hectares at 59-61 Hovell Street and 1012ha at 23 Hercules Street from community to operational land. These were deemed to be surplus following an extensive audit of council properties.
If approved, the blocks would be sold, with the proceeds going towards new playground equipment for the remainder of Albert Street Park and the Aquatic Centre's redevelopment.
Independent planning consultant Steve Richardson hosted Thursday's hearing, which was required under the Local Government Act. The session was an opportunity for people to have a say ahead of any decision.
Seven residents told Mr Richardson and the council in no uncertain terms that they didn't want any part of Albert Street Park sold.
The council's business manager, property and community services, Ken Wheeldon said the area was judged as surplus because it was close to the more heavily used Victoria Park and was under-utilised.
But that wasn't residents' view.
"I think it's a sad day when 'value' to the community is only to be thought of in restricted terms," Jenny Campton Smith said.
She said she had never lodged a council submission about anything or spoken publicly about an issue but she felt passionately about the park. She described it as a meeting place and play area for children and told Mr Richardson that not everyone wanted to go to Victoria Park.
I feel quite certain that more than ever before, open spaces are needed for families.Linda Polosak
It was a sentiment echoed by Ms Makin who said some children, particularly those with autism, felt "overwhelmed" by large crowds, such as those at Victoria Park's adventure playground.
"Why is it that only the larger parks or those associated with organised sport appear to be safe from any proposed sell-off? We should retain these pockets of green space around the city," Mrs Campton-Smith said.
"...It's really sad that the council would even think of getting rid of a park for fleeting monetary reward that will go on God knows what."
Verner Street resident Linda Polosak pointed out that War Veterans Homes transferred ownership of the park to the then Goulburn City Council (GCC) in 1965 for public recreation.
"I'm sure they understood the importance of open space when they handed it to GCC," she said.
"I feel quite certain that more than ever before, open spaces are needed for families."
Mrs Polosak highlighted the higher density of new developments and small backyards. Her children used Albert Street Park when they were younger and she described it as a beautiful place to also just "sit and contemplate."
She told the forum that Goulburn had just experienced its hottest summer in three years and green spaces that gave relief from the heat were increasingly important.
"We need more open space, not less and more money needs to be spent on them, not less," Mrs Polosak said.
Niki Shepherd, an environmental science TAFE teacher, also spoke about the importance of green space for mental health and well being. She has taken her children and relatives to Albert Park since 2005. Ms Shepherd said such areas "contributed to supporting the vulnerable state of Goulburn's flora and fauna biodiversity."
Resident Cameron Bell said he didn't trust that the sale would deliver a respectful development.
Other speakers included Adrian Pfoefter, Kerrie and Bob Lamb, Patricia Barber and David Mullen, who urged the council to install more equipment.
The Hovell Street land received less attention. If the reclassification is approved, the council intends to rezone it from industrial to R1 residential and then engage a consultant to prepare a planning proposal for a subdivision, addressing issues like access and water runoff.
This land and the Hercules Street parcel would be sold at auction.
Mr Richardson will prepare a report based on all submissions for the council but will not make a recommendation. This will be completed by the end of April and will be made public within four days of council receipt.
Mr Wheeldon said a further report would go to the May 21 council meeting at the earliest for a decision.
Mayor Bob Kirk, Deputy Mayor Peter Walker and Crs Leah Ferrara and Carol James also attended Thursday's hearing.
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