Council goes back to the drawing board.
Consider the musical chairs that will be played out with our key community resources, and the disruption to our community over the next few years, if the proposed new $20 million bridge over Cedar Party Creek is to be built.
Whilst under Administration, and under the stewardship of John Turner, and (then) GM Glenn Handford, MidCoast Council resolved that Wingham must have a shiny new gold-plated bridge over Cedar Party Creek and, in their wisdom, determined that the only possible route for this new bridge was directly through the Wingham Memorial Swimming Pool.
The Pool, a community venture spanning generations, was built through public donations of land and monies, to provide the locals with a safe place to swim. It is an iconic legacy, and a symbol of days gone by, when communities worked together to get amenities Council couldn’t (or wouldn’t) provide.
Much to everyone’s confusion and frustration, rather than adopting a modest cost-effective solution, one that would fit into the character of Wingham, Council came up with a you-beaut $20 million concrete monster, which we are told we need for future growth.
After a massive public outcry in opposition to this grand venture, by over 90% of the Wingham community that signed the petition initiated by the “Save Our Pool Group”, MidCoast Council and the State Member Stephen Bromhead, solemnly promised that the Wingham Memorial Pool will be replaced with a new ‘like-for-like’ version. That is, a 50m championship pool and all the existing trimmings, with the only problem being: Where to put it?
Some bright spark at Council, upon hearing that the Wingham Bowling Club may be a little financially strained, came up with the idea of buying out the club, and building the pool over their greens. This did not go down well with Club Members.
Then, of course, there is the new ‘challenge’ (we don’t use the word ‘problem’ anymore, as sometimes it suggests ‘of one’s own making’) of what to do with the dear old Bowling Club, and all its members and patrons?
So then, another genius idea. Apparently Wingham Golf Club isn’t doing so well financially either, so let’s encourage the merger of the two clubs. (Rather like the notion of amalgamating three Councils that weren’t doing too well). The only difference is that, in this case, there isn’t a rich, cashed-up, desperate State Government around to throw $25M at such a merger, nor to roll over backwards on SRV increases; and don’t forget our Council has just handed over $1,000,000 to the Taree Hockey Club, (see March edition of this paper), so they won’t be too keen to throw any more money around.
Anyway, it proved to be a moot point when the two clubs put it to a vote –
The Golf Club members voted 74 to 60 in favour of the amalgamation.
The Bowling Club voted 125 to 44 against the amalgamation. So, the amalgamation will not proceed.
All this chaos, when a modest bridge, or even the proposed concrete monolith, could have been built through the Bowling Club’s car park, leaving the Wingham Memorial pool untouched.
And, while the Wingham pool maybe dated and require some maintenance and some TLC, with all the money currently being thrown around by our State Member in advance of the election, surely Council could have got a grant to update the filtration system, and whatever other repairs need to be made.
We have been told that we need this fancy new bridge to cater for future growth, so what about the need for the growth in social infrastructure, like the Wingham bowlo?
Then there is a very small, if vociferous, group which has a vested interest in protecting Chrissy Golan Park which, while a nice thought, is rarely used, and floods. Surely another appropriate space could be found to commemorate Chrissy Golan’s memory? And then a simple bridge diversion would save the pool and the Bowling Club.
What happens to our community, when we continue to allow our social resources and infrastructure to be gobbled up on the basis of expediency and vested interests?
Answer. We all lose.