A windfall COVID grant of $323,344 from the Federal Government will result in Council being able to build a bike skills park in Minnamurra Headland quarry and improve the parking at Bonaira Oval this financial year.
The allocation of the money to the unfunded works of $150,000 for the bike park and $173,344 for the car park was endorsed unanimously, as part of the motion to approve the budget and operational plan, at an extraordinary meeting of Council on 30 June.
The grant was awarded to Council through the Federal Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) Program, with both projects fitting its criteria for spending.
Keen cyclist and nearby resident, Michael Thompson, gained support from Council for his proposal to repurpose the old quarry site in 2017, is pleased the project will go ahead this year.
“All the kids ride around here have mountain bikes to tackle the hills,” he says.
“It is going to be a fantastic place for kids of all ages, and adults too, to gain skills.”
The project has been championed strongly by Councillor Mark Way, who says he has been trying to find a use for the quarry since he was first elected.
The project was approved by councillors in November 2017, with $20,000 already having been spent on soil testing at the site.
Last year, with the backing of Council, Mr Thompson was successful in obtaining $50,000 from the My Community Project grants program to build the bike skills component of site.
The grants were awarded by the State via a popular vote system, with the bike skills park scoring the highest amount of support in the Kiama electorate.
With that funding formally in Council’s capital works budget, estimates based on the requirements of the 2010 Plan of Management for the site (for toilets, parking, fencing etc) showed that another $150,000 was necessary to complete the project.
Nearby residents opposed to locating the bike skills park in the quarry have recently formed the Sanctuary Place Quarry Advocacy Group (SPQAG), believing their concerns have not been taken into account.
“People were shut down early on,” says the convenor Ngaire Brennan.
“It was made very apparent that it was going ahead.
“We thought [as nearby neighbours] we were going to be consulted, but never were.”
The SPQAG has concerns about the cost of the project and its maintenance, what they see as its misalignment with the 2010 Plan of Management, the lack of direct consultation with adjoining neighbours, safety and child protection issues, one access point, potential traffic and parking problems, and noise from the natural amphitheatre.
They say a bike skills park would be far better located at Gainsborough Chase, to build on its existing facilities.
The first meeting of the SPQAG was attended by 40 people from Sanctuary Place, Carson Place and Robinson Avenue, with Councillor Mark Way attending without an invitation.
“Councillor Way said the quarry site was ‘100 per cent ideal’ and Gainsborough was ‘absolutely unsuitable’,” says another member of the SPQAG, Jane Anderson.
“He refused an invitation to go over to look at Gainsborough, and did not explain the criteria for choosing the quarry. He repeatedly refused to take our concerns back to the other councillors.”
Council’s Director Engineering & Works, Mike Dowd, expects the project plans and draft designs will be made available for community comment during August.
“Concerns raised by residents previously and through submissions to the Operational Plan 2020-21 exhibition are being addressed in the project design and delivery.
“Notifications will be sent to all properties surrounding the quarry as well as to a variety of community and interest groups. Information provided will also include a set of FAQs, aimed to answer all of the questions and concerns previously raised by the community.”
Cliff Mason, President of the Minnamurra Progress Association, says the project has been discussed a number of times and members have shown it their support.