Council backs child centre site
“I AM very happy. Yes, I think this decision is very good.”
Bundjalung elder Bertha Kapeen welcomed Ballina Shire Council's decision yesterday to reclassify a 3800sq m section of Porter Park.
This means a development application can now be lodged for a $3 million Aboriginal Child and Family Centre on the site.
The council chambers were packed to capacity and people spilled into the foyer to hear yesterday's vote, which followed months of controversy and divided the community.
Members of the Local Reference Group cried with relief as approval was given, but Ken Johnston of the Save Porter Park Action Group said it was a disappointing outcome.
“I think it is a bit short-sighted,” he said.
“We are very upset about losing the open space in West Ballina.”
Cr Peter Moore said he believed the Porter Park site was a “good fit” for the centre.
“It would be bitterly disappointing if this project was lost or moved to another location (because we couldn't agree on a site),” he said.
“It would be a slap in the face.”
Cr Keith Johnson called on the entire community to back the facility.
“The objectors keep saying that they support it, but that is sounding hollower and hollower,” he said.
Cr Sharon Cadwallader said she didn't want to see “something so important put in a place where it would not be welcomed”.
“Anything that divides the community like this is not good,” she said.
The council also voted to “endorse the protection of the remainder of Porter Park” and for a workshop to be held on the enhancement of the open space facilities.
An application will now be lodged for the centre and it will go through the normal assessment process.