CAMDEN

Idea raised for community to buy church land

But mayor unwilling to use ratepayers’ money

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A community investment has been suggested for St John’s.

CAMDEN business owner Steve Wisbey believes community investment is the best way to preserve the land proposed for sale at St John’s Anglican Church.

The owner of Upstairs at Fred’s suggested the idea at a community meeting with the church on Sunday.

“Community investment is the only way we can assure it is ours forever,” Mr Wisbey said. “My thought is as a community with the support of Camden Council, local businesses and families – we can save the land.

“It is our land and should never be developed.”

Mr Wisbey envisions a community wall monument, with the names engraved on the wall of the people saving the land.

“A wall would be fantastic with a message engraved ‘owned by our community, for our community, Camden Green’,” he said.

St John’s Anglican Church minister Tony Galea said he was happy to work with the community and Camden Council for Camden to own the land.

“That’s in the hands of the community,” he said.

“We wish we didn’t have to sell the land but we still want to develop and have looked at all possibilities.”

Camden Mayor Lara Symkowiak said she couldn’t justify using ratepayers’ money to purchase the land, noting it could trigger a conflict of interest.

“It would set a precedent for council to own privately owned land with potential for development,” she said.

“It’s great to see the community come together passionately over the land.

“If businesses and people try to buy the land, council won’t stand in their way.”

The sale of the rectory and 1.3ha of land would allow the church to fund a new $6 million, 300-person capacity worship centre.

Rev Galea said he hoped to list the sale of the land by the end of the year.