What could be done to rectify the issues with the Mackay Park development?
There are two suggested avenues open to council – the simplest one is to now include what the people want in the current plan
- and the second is what should have been done from the beginning and includes:
Council should publically tell the whole story about why the old bowling club site was purchased and who were the responsible decision makers – this would help clear the air and to provide a blank sheet as a starting point for any proposals for the precinct’s development.
The grant applications recently lodged by council should be put on hold pending amendments, but not withdrawn as nobody wants a basically good and much wanted development to be squashed but rather want to see it go ahead with the inclusion of key users’ and general community requirements together with other sensible features such as an on-site bus interchange, a commercial kitchen and bar facilities in the theatre/hall area that would all enhance the centre’s commercial viability.
It is probably necessary, and advisable after the way council appears to have dealt with the issues thus far, for the local member to be involved to ensure the plan for the project is what the community wants, that the grant applications reflect this and further that the grant applications are treated on their merits by the state approval authorities.
The Sunset Committee should be retained, strengthened and expanded to include representatives of the local member, schools, therapy/health providers, broader ranges of sporting groups and additional community representatives perhaps including some from the more southerly parts of the shire. It should meet more regularly, its meetings should be open to the public and the media, it should more closely monitor the project on behalf on the community and its activities, in summary form, should be regularly published in the media.
Key users should get together with the Sunset Committee and agree not to settle for second best despite the implied threat from council that if they don’t accept what is on offer, they chance losing the lot. Hell, there’s no guarantee the grants will be approved anyhow nor can we accept the suggestions by the mayor that it’s OK to ask for the grants now and the plans can be altered or the building/pool extended in the future. The grant authorities should be quite strict about compliance with applications – it’s our money, don’t forget - and there simply would be no space on site for future changes if the concept plan as adopted is not submitted showing what is really wanted by the community.
Proper feedback should be sought from any and all interested people in the shire but particularly from schools and sporting bodies not previously consulted. Costed plans and business cases should be prepared incorporating such input and tabled through the Sunset Committee and go on public exhibition before a final plan is decided.
Councillors should re-evaluate their decision to apply for grant moneys after alternate quotations have been received for the detailed design, construction and infrastructure inclusions and all costings have been made available to them including a strategy to overcome any grant funding shortfall without the need for a future Special Rate Variation.
If there is no concrete better solution in the next six months for it, the old bowling club should be demolished and either become the site for a multi-purpose, multi court indoor sports facility, alternatively if funding is short in the short term, the space can be used for overflow CBD car parking. The Otium strategy, commissioned by council, does mention both the need for an indoor sports centre somewhere in several parts of the shire and the perceived need for the additional car parking which is on the shopping centre’s wish list apparently, along with a hint that a bridge to the shopping centre should also be considered (but these latter points should be matter for the shopping centre’s development and cost and not to be done at public expense.) Jeff de Jager Coila