PHOTO GALLERY: Hundreds rally to save much-loved park
HUNDREDS of local residents turned out at Suffolk Park last night for a rally against the sale of a slice of land.
The Suffolk Park Progress Association called the rally to save its only park, which is set to be sold by the Education Department by auction before the end of the month.
Just this week North Coast Nationals MLC Ben Franklin announced sale of the land would not proceed on the public market after a meeting with Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli.
Mr Franklin is hoping the minister will remove the land from commercial sale and transfer ownership to Byron Shire Council on behalf of the Suffolk Park community.
400 people, young and old, as well as community groups, sporting groups, and local politicians were out in support of keeping the park in community hands.
Byron Shire Councillors, as well as former Ballina MP Don Page were in attendance in support of the rally motion.
Speaker included Byron mayor Simon Richardson and Coogera Pre School director Victoria Handley, whose pupils regularly visit the community gardens as part of their curriculum.
Mikey Sharka, 12, said he had lived opposite the park all his life, and learnt to ride his bike and play soccer there.
He said he did not want to see houses grow, but rather wanted to see gardens grow and kids play.
Another resident, Jim Mott, said the land was irreplaceable: "You can build houses but you can't build community".
2500 people have signed a petition to stop the sale of the land and keep the park in the community's hands.