Stadium funds debate

COFFS Harbour's BCU International Stadium has become the council's frontrunner for grant applications from the state and federal governments, but not without controversy.

At Thursday's council meeting councillors finally approved a recommendation to endorse draft concept plans for improvements estimated to cost $12 to $14 million but not without vigorous debate about lack of progress on new cultural venues and the improvement of sporting facilities without corresponding progress on other community projects.

Cr Denise Knight, seconded by Cr Jenny Bonfield, moved the motion to endorse the stadium, with the inclusion of two other clauses.

This was that the council immediately formulate concept plans for a performing arts centre including an art gallery and a report be brought back on the status of 11 other projects.

These are the Jetty foreshores; Sapphire to Woolgoolga cycleway; Woolgoolga multi-purpose centre, retention basins 3 and 4; Jetty Theatre seating; art gallery, library, skate park, Bruxner eco-tourism project, Solitary Islands coastal walkway and public transport infrastructure.

Cr Knight said she understood $20,000 would be required for the concept plan for the stadium, which would come from the Sports Unit budget, and was concerned about the financial impact on ratepayers.

The mayor said there would be no impact on ratepayers and the idea was to have a shelf-ready plan when funding was available.

He was “horrified” by the efforts by Cr Mark Graham, Cr Rodney Degens and Cr John Arkan to ditch the stadium project in favour of a new concept plan for a performing arts centre and cost benefit analyses of the other wish list items.

“Taking any project out of the city's forward planning is absolutely draconian,” Cr Rhoades said.

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