SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council has acknowledged the importance to the township of Foster of a large parcel of land it owns in Pioneer Street and is taking the views of the Foster Community Association into consideration in its negotiations with South Gippsland Water over the sale of the land.
The land, which includes the former Foster kindergarten site, is located beside the offices of South Gippsland Water. The water corporation is purchasing 2111 square metres of the land from the shire. It will lease a further 560 square metre parcel.
Under the terms of the lease, the smaller parcel of land can only be used as car parking by SGW staff. This is to address visibility concerns the Foster Community Association has about the skate park located behind the land and frequented by local children.
Council has also entered into a license agreement with the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) for access over the adjoining DSE land. This has a bitumen path and will allow access to the skate park around the SGW land. The lease will also require SGW to erect a metal cyclone fence on the leased boundary to avoid conflict between children and vehicles in the SGW car park.
“This is a very significant parcel of land. It’s good to see South Gippsland Water expanding in Foster, but we need to partner with the water corporation to achieve the best possible outcome,” said Cr Mohya Davies back in February, when Council was first negotiating the sale of the land to the water corporation.
Following an eloquently argued submission from Christine Kemper on behalf of the Foster Community Association, Cr Davies recommended including as part of the 2012/13 Council Plan an investigation to determine the best use of the balance of the council land in Pioneer Street, which includes the shire depot.
“This is prime commercial land and represents a substantial sale of community assets. The community should get some say in it,” argued Ms Kemper. She urged Council to be visionary and consider the sale of the land in the context of a long-term blueprint for Foster.
At last Wednesday’s council meeting, Council agreed to apply for a grant under the State Government ‘Planning for Tomorrow’ program to undertake a masterplan exercise for the shire depot land. A preliminary estimate of the cost of such as an exercise is in the vicinity of $60,000.
“It’s great to see South Gippsland Water increase its footprint in Foster. It’s great for the local economy. It is also good to be exploring uses for other areas Council owns nearby such as the works yard. I’d like to thank the officers concerned for their efforts in this,” said Cr Davies.