A GROUP of Crestwood residents is lobbying Queanbeyan City Council to reverse its decision to sell community land located at 7-9 McKeahnie Street.
The residents are writing letters to councillors asking them to reconsider the sale which has been described as a "shock" and "unexpected" decision.
For more on the proposed McKeahnie Street sale, see: http://www.queanbeyanage.com.au/story/1352953/residents-once-sold-its-gone-for-good/?cs=1529
McKeahnie Street resident and former Greens political candidate Katrina Willis said the group had been under the impression there would be public consultation before a final decision was made.
"We were getting ready to run a campaign ... because I thought that the council would actually put up a proposal to sell it and seek public comment," Ms Willis said. "All along, through this process, the council said 'just because the land's reclassified doesn't mean it's going to be sold'.
"In the middle of last year the mayor confirmed that and he said there's been some interesting suggestions for uses and I'm interested in hearing more."
However, Mayor Tim Overall said there had been "extensive public consultation" when the land was reclassified and submissions received during the draft local environment plan process.
A series of presentations were also made during council meetings.
"Councillors were well-aware of the concerns of the community. What hasn't been reported is the view of other neighbours who have welcomed development on the site," he said.
"They have relayed their views to some councillors that open space would provide potential security problems for residents.
"After extensive community consultation, like in this situation, council has to make a decision based on wider community interest."
Ms Willis also said she was disappointed the decision was made behind closed doors and said it sent a message to the community about how far council was prepared to engage in public consultation.
However, Cr Overall said the decision had been made in closed session because the report included confidential information about the value of the land.
"To be transparent from the outset, council had the recommendation read out at the start of the meeting so people were aware of the recommendation and could make public presentations accordingly," he said.
Ms Willis said she would like council to reconsider their decision and provide an opportunity for the public to be involved in deciding what the best use was for the land and building.
"I still don't see why they had to discuss it in closed session, I understand if they're talking about valuation they wouldn't want to discuss that publicly ... but I think the council owe the community an obligation to have that debate about the sale of a community asset in a public forum," Ms Willis said.
“We don’t know what arguments people raised, we don’t know how many councillors supported the sale, how many didn’t. Really the community hasn’t had an opportunity to test the council’s proposition that this is the best use of this publicly-owned asset.”
Mayor Overall said putting 7-9 McKeahnie Street on the market was good news for the community with money used from the sale to upgrade the Henderson Road Recreation and Skate Area.
He also noted the recent improvements to the R B Community Centre in Crawford Street which he said was a five minute drive from Crestwood.