By Casey Neill
Naming a Dandenong South reserve after a developer is “a completely out of touch idea” according to Councillor Matthew Kirwan.
His colleagues voted to name the land at 43-67 National Drive the Frank Pellicano Reserve at the Tuesday 12 June Greater Dandenong Council meeting.
Cr Sean O’Reilly said this decision shouldn’t be debated in public and that sometimes a councillor “should just really take one for the team and support the majority decision”.
“We’re all going to have different opinions on who is more worthy,” he said.
“This is an extremely good fit for the circumstances, for the history.
“We should proceed with what is a majority, consensus view.”
But Cr Kirwan said the council should be recognising those that contribute to the community the most, “not those that have the biggest wallets”.
He said that by all accounts, Mr Pellicano was respected and did his job sensitively and ethically.
But he also donated the council-owned 21.6 hectare conservation area that will now bear his name “as part of a broader negotiation about the development of this estate”.
“That is good business – I am not questioning that – but is that a reason to name a reserve after someone?” Cr Kirwan said.
He said naming the reserve after “volunteers who have slaved away over decades, making a positive difference to our community for no pay and little recognition” would be more appropriate.
“Alternatively we could have taken the approach that we have taken with Harmony Square and recently with the new park in Westwood Boulevard have done an open consultation on the name of the reserve,” he said.
Cr Maria Sampey said the move would set a dangerous precedent for future development.
But Cr Jim Memeti said it was fitting.
He said Mr Pellicano had the vision in the late 1990s to acquire 160 hectares that would become the Remington Estate and M1 and M2 Industry Park “when it was swamp and cow paddocks”.
Cr Memeti said Mr Pellicano also secured the majority of occupiers for the business park, which now provides about 2000 jobs.
He said the estate generated $1.5 million in council rates each year and about $1.6 million annually in land tax.
“Frank was a pioneer who came to this country with nothing,” he said.
“He created a business that was very successful.”
Cr Zaynoun Melhem said Mr Pellicano made a significant contribution to the city and should be acknowledged.