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Councillors invited to take the opportunity to pause and reflect on the Mackay Park project

The Beagle Editor, Your readers might be interested in an Open Letter I have just sent to our elected representatives. Dear Mayor and Councillors

The impending use of the old Bowling Club site by the RMS presents an ideal opportunity for Council to pause and reassess plans for the development in the Mackay Park Precinct without any time pressures forcing decisions.

As has been heralded since April 2016, when the club and land was purchased, the site really does present an opportunity to showcase a gateway development for the Shire. It has been obvious as the project has proceeded that whatever is done to achieve this iconic development will be of a “big ticket” nature and will therefore form a long term commitment. These factors combine to highlight the absolute importance of getting it “right”.

It would make sense, therefore, now with wider community awareness, Council’s greater knowledge of users’ requirements and all the latest design/cost information to hand, that there should be a consolidation period of at least several months to consider all the possibilities, to seek further private partnerships, to canvass funding sources and, importantly, to encourage any further submissions covering the whole precinct from the community particularly from potential user groups.

Consider that -

  • It would be unlikely that physical work on the proposed aquatic/cultural project would start before the RMS has moved on after building the bridges and no longer in need of the old bowlo space and then, say in three or so years, their activities would not hinder any other works in the precinct – this provides a time buffer to put overall project components in place with a higher degree of support in the community.

  • It would be preferable that the future use of the old club space could be determined simultaneously and certainly before the design of an aquatic/cultural project is decided so that all development aspects of the whole precinct can be properly coordinated and integrated to ensure the significant “gateway” development as initially proposed.

  • It will be a very big ticket development for the shire with a long life ahead no matter what finally ends up being done – all the more reason to be sure it is “right” now for the generations to come before any irreversible works are done.

  • It would be good governance for council to be seen to be objectively considering/incorporating the community’s wishes, to investigate ranges of alternatives and to be more proactively consultative and transparent in progressing the project.

The process so far has given a benchmark so let’s look at how other approaches or other features for the precinct might change the outcome for a better result than we see at this time. A few months of objectivity now is insignificant in relation to the seven or more decades the infrastructure will be there.

Please, Councillors, be prudent now and take this opportunity to pause and reflect on what will be the best use of the site – aquatic, cultural, performing arts, residential or whatever should be in the mix - for the good of the future of the shire.

Should you wish to discuss these thoughts further please let me know.

Yours faithfully

Jeff de Jager Coila

#Opinion #Paper

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