A LONG standing debate over the future of Traralgon’s former Early Learning Centre has sparked fury among residents after the Latrobe City Council voted in favour of selling the site.
Council resolved to sell the Franklin Street site via public auction, in a bid to cover its $1.2 million deficit after a key developer reneged on its previous offer of using the site for a major development.
Council’s decision to sell the site via private treaty at the time received criticism from residents who believed the site should remain “in public hands”.
Following the collapse of the sale to the potential developer Minister Constructions, council then resolved to take the issue to the public by selling the site via public auction.
In a passionate exchange between councillors at a meeting last week, Councillor Dale Harriman criticised council for its “incompetence” on the matter.
“I’m disappointed this site has been put up for sale especially when there are other options,” Cr Harriman said.
“At the moment (council) are not listening to the community; they didn’t listen when they decided to sell via private treaty then.
“This is just the beginning of the issue and I’m going to fight to have the community have its say on its future.”
Cr Harriman revealed he would be making known his opposition on the matter, by putting in a notice of rescission before council to not proceed with the sale of the TELC site.
Councillor Darrell White, who previously supported his fellow councillors’ decision to not proceed with the sale early last month, said his recent actions in favour of selling the site were as a result of “further consideration on the matter”.
“The possibility of fully realising the full potential (of the site) can only be tested by the TELC site being subject to the ultimate test – public auction,” Cr White said.
As to council’s previous decision in 2006 when it decided to sell via private treaty, Cr White who was mayor at the time, said it was based on “the interest of the community… and the wisdom of council”.
Traralgon resident Johanna Sykes, who addressed council urging them to not sell the site, said she was “disappointed in council”, adding the site would have much more potential if used as a centre for youth, to complement the Traralgon Activity Centre Plan.
“What else do the people of Traralgon have to do to be heard and respected and to be given our dues,” Ms Sykes asked.
However, Latrobe City general manager governance Carol Jeffs backed council’s decision to sell the site, adding “council has been carrying the deficit when the site wasn’t sold”.
“At the time we decided to purchase the Mapelson Street site, it was decided the proceeds from the former TELC site would go towards the new site,” Ms Jeffs said.
“That commitment has always been there.”
Council has called a special meeting on Tuesday in the Nambur Wariga Meeting Room, corporate headquarters, Commercial Road, Morwell from 6pm to discuss Cr Harriman’s ‘Notice of rescission – proposed sale of land Franklin Street Traralgon’.
A full copy of the meeting agenda is available at each service centre, with the minutes available from Thursday or visit
The meeting is open to the community.