Piece of Warilla history up for sale

Shellharbour City Council will offer the Warilla Library and adjoining land containing the Freedom Wall and Peace Grove as part of the sale of the former council chambers and administration building at Warilla.

Proceeds from the sale of the old council chambers will go towards funding the controversial $57 million city hub project.

The move to include land containing the library and freedom wall in the expressions of interest campaign drew an angry and at times emotional response from community members and some councillors on Tuesday night.

The wall, unveiled in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, is made up of 113 plaques placed by families, clubs and organisations in honour of local servicemen and women. It is located in a grove that includes a tree propagated from the Lone Pine at Gallipoli.

The council's reason for including the library and land containing the wall in the sale process is that it would provide "a wider purchaser audience that could enable a more substantial development and use of the site".

It was suggested the wall, which is not on the council's heritage register, could be relocated to another council-owned location.

One of the plaques contains the name of Shellharbour resident Paul Hockey's late father.

"I am very proud to see his name displayed on the wall," Mr Hockey said.

"No doubt the families of the other service personnel listed on the wall have similar sentiments ... those councillors who vote for this recommendation should hang their heads in shame as by their actions it would appear that they couldn't care less for those who served and fought for our freedom."

Warilla RSL Sub-Branch president Don Briggs said any attempt to remove the wall would create issues for the council, including finding a suitable alternate location.

Cr Peter Moran said the proposed sale of the library had never before been mentioned in the hub process and it raised questions regarding a future library.

"We hired [real estate agents] CBRE to tell us how to maximise the income from the sale of these assets and they tell us to sell more land ... we don't need an expensive real estate consultant to tell us that," Cr Moran said.

Cr Moran said the former council chambers site in Warilla would be a better location for the city hub.

Hub priority ‘disgusting’

A notice of motion from former mayor Kellie Marsh calling for a poll of residents to gauge community opinion on the Shellharbour City Hub project failed to get a hearing on Tuesday night as the ordinary meeting extended to its compulsory closing time of 10.30pm.

It means the motion and a handful of other items won’t be debated until the council’s next ordinary meeting in February.

Referring to the sale of land containing the Freedom Wall, Cr Marsh said it was ‘‘absolutely disgusting’’ council was putting asset sales for the City Hub ahead of honouring the  fallen.

A staunch monarchist, Cr Marsh did however have time to congratulate ‘‘Liz and Phil from Buckingham Palace’’ on their 65th wedding anniversary.

Mayor Marianne Saliba said she was sure they would be ‘‘tickled pink’’ with the congratulations.

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