After five long years, members of the 'Save our Boomerang Park' action group have claimed a victory for the people of Raymond Terrace.
At a Port Stephens Council meeting held on February 12, a huge contingent of supporters cheered as councillors voted 6-2 to put a halt to the potential for any future residential zoning of the iconic park.
The decision not to progress with a planning proposal demonstrated the winds of change on council, with five (Giacomo Arnott, Jaimie Abbott, Glen Dunkley, Sarah Smith and mayor Ryan Palmer) of the six councillors part of the newly council from 2017. [Councillors Steve Tucker and Ken Jordan were absent].
West ward's Paul Le Mottee and Chris Doohan believed it was too early to kill off any future proposed development, but their concerns were drowned out by the sentiment of public gallery opinion.
"There is a need for more seniors living in Raymond Terrace, the Raymond Terrace Strategy is still in its infancy and I'm quite sure the newly implemented residents' panel is yet to meet," Cr Le Mottee argued. "It's too early to kill this plan off."
But it was to no avail. Leading the voice for change were councillors John Nell and Giacomo Arnott.
"I will not support the carving up of parkland for residential development," Cr Nell said. "Yes Raymond Terrace is a growing residential area, which is more the reason why such parkland should be preserved in the middle of town."
Cr Arnott paid tribute to the 'Save our Boomerang Park' and members of the Raymond Terrace community, who over five years worked arduously and tirelessly "to save Boomerang Park from being rezoned, reclassified and sold off by the council to developers to build housing".
"Tonight councillors decided that this park is worth saving. Boomerang Park has centuries of historical, cultural and recreational significance to the Raymond Terrace community, and tonight’s decision has secured its future as the premier piece of public space, allowing it to be preserved for future generations to enjoy and care for."
A longtime Raymond Terrace resident, Cr Arnott said that he knew and understood just how significant this park was to the community.
“I look forward to working hard to deliver improved services and amenities in the park now that its future is secure. This is a fantastic day and all those who signed a petition, put a sign in their yard, and attended meetings to save our park should be proud of their efforts.”
State MP Kate Washington said that she was pleased to have stood alongside the community since 2014 to make sure this park remained protected.
“Boomerang Park is of great significance to the families of Raymond Terrace, and the former council’s plans to sell it off were never welcomed.”
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