Fallen soldiers forgotten?

A PROPOSAL to relocate a commemorative wall honouring the area's servicemen and women as part of a Shellharbour City Council asset sale elicited an impassioned response last week.

The council will offer the Warilla Library and adjoining land containing a Freedom Wall and Peace Grove for sale with the former council chambers and administration building.

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

Earlier this year, the council appointed CBRE as real estate consultants to market and sell five properties earmarked to fund the hub's construction.

The council were also asked to include the neighbouring Warilla Library in the expressions of interest process, "subject to the proponent agreeing to provide a purpose-designed facility for a branch library within a new development if required".

At last Tuesday's meeting, the council resolved to begin the expression of interest process.

The wall was unveiled in November 1995 - 50 years after the end of World War II.

It is comprised of 113 plaques placed by families, clubs and organisations in honour of the area's servicemen and women.

It is also located in a grove which includes a tree propagated from the Lone Pine at Gallipoli.

The reason given for including the library 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" according to council property and recreation manager Donna Flanagan.

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

One plaque honours Shellharbour resident Paul Hockey's late father, Ray.

"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," Mr Hockey said.

"I feel pretty strongly about it. It [the wall] should be there for all time, and remain in council hands."

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

He also questioned whether any new site would be highly visible, accessible to public transport and provide adequate parking.

Councillor Kellie Marsh, a vocal hub critic, said it was "absolutely disgusting" that council was putting asset sales for the hub ahead of honouring those who had fallen and were commemorated.

She also said council had neglected the old chamber building.

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

"The proposal to sell the library is full of unanswered questions," he said.

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

Mayor Marianne Saliba said there was misinformation surrounding the process, suggesting some were trying to play on emotions.

"We are not about destroying anything that honours servicemen and women," she said. "What worries me is I see there will be some who will try and use this as another weapon to try and prevent council going ahead with the hub.

"If we do get to a stage where we think that's our best option, we will talk to the RSL Sub-Branch, families and the community ... [Asking that] if it's the best option to relocate it, where would be the best place?"

Land at Oak Flats has already been sold to help fund the hub, while expressions of interest have been called for a site at Tullimbar. The administration office at Lamerton House will also be sold to fund the hub project.

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