A community campaign for a new park in Footscray has failed after the state government put a $5.5 million price tag on the land.
Maribyrnong councillors voted 6-1 against purchasing surplus Regional Rail Link land on Buckley Street to create new open space in an area soon to be dominated by high-rise apartments.
The council will instead push for the creation of a park on Walter Street as part of a redevelopment of the 1.4-hectare Transdev bus depot site, a project likely to include about 400 new apartments above a supermarket.
Cr Martin Zakharov said if the council “had $5.5 million lying around” it would create the park at 96-100 Buckley Street.
“But there is already work being done on another site about 150 metres away that will work just as effectively or even more effectively because there is less traffic,” he said.
“It will give us better results in a better spot at lower cost.”
Cr Catherine Cumming criticised the state government for seeking to profit from the sale of land wanted for public use.
“I feel very sorry for the residents in Buckley Street. I am a bit irked the state government hasn’t gifted this council any land that is seen to be surplus to the Regional Rail Link.”
Cr Nam Quach said the $5.5 million price tag made the Walter Street plan a reasonable compromise.
But Cr Grant Miles said he disagreed, despite the expensive asking price.
“We’re going to have thousands more apartments in the near future; the population is set to double in the next 20 years,” he said. “The price for this sort of open space now might be $5.5 million, but in 10 years time it might be $20 million.
“So I think we need to be getting in while we can.”
Daniell Flood, who collected more than 150 signatures on a petition supporting the Buckley Street park, said he was disappointed as the decision paved the way for another high-density apartment block on the land.
“I fear a pocket park on the shady backside of the privately owned bus depot development will be too small to service the thousands of people expected to live in the dog boxes being built along Buckley Street.”