The contentious sale of the old Traralgon Early Learning Centre site is on the agenda, with Latrobe City councillors set to vote on its future tonight.
The proposed sale of the Franklin Street site has sparked debate since 2006, when council voted to sell via private treaty, sparking criticism from community members.
However, after key developer, Minster Constructions, reneged on its previous offer of using the site for a major development earlier this year, council resolved to sell the site via public auction, in a bid to cover its $1.2 million deficit.
No bids were received with the property passed in and council left with a $1.2 million budget shortfall.
Five years since the initial community consultation began, Latrobe City councillor Kellie O’Callaghan has called on “adequate consultation” before voting on the future of the site.
“Since 2006 we haven’t explored a detailed and robust process of review regarding this site and its possible uses,” Cr O’Callaghan said.
“Let’s take a longer term view of our planning.”
She said Traralgon’s population growth coupled with demand for residential land in the north area of Traralgon, meant council needed to “look to the future in our treatment of these community owned assets”.
“In planning such developments council has already acknowledged the need for community facilities and early years services in this area of Traralgon,” she said.
Despite Latrobe City officers deeming the site surplus to “both community and council requirements”, Cr O’Callaghan argued the site was “ideal for consideration for use by many residents”.
“Given the significant and long term impact of the decision to be taken by council, I do not believe this process has allowed for adequate consultation with our community,” Cr O’Callaghan said.
Traralgon Community Development Association secretary Bruce Bremner said a variety of possibilities needed to be investigated prior to council’s resolution tonight.
“One suggestion was a youth drop-in centre or perhaps an aboriginal support centre; there are a variety of possibilities but I think people are totally unaware about what is going on,” Mr Bremner said.
He said they were also concerned Latrobe City was entering the real estate market during poor economic times.
“We may be selling for far less than what we could in the future,” he said.