THE proposal to allow a temporary aqua park to be established on Ben Chifley Dam during the summer months each year might not get the rails run developers had hoped for when it goes before Bathurst Regional Council on Wednesday night.
Already the timetable to get the park up and running this year is getting tight – so much so that councillors requested an extraordinary meeting to discuss the proposal rather than wait until the next scheduled meeting a week later.
The benefits of the aqua park are many and obvious, and such a development is the next obvious step in making the most of the dam as a community asset.
After the Sydney Olympics, council acquired some cabins from the Athletes’ Village and installed them on-site at the dam as accommodation for visiting families.
And about 10 years ago, council finally upgraded and sealed the road that leads to the dam, immediately increasing the amount of traffic going there and back for water-based recreation activities such as water skiing and canoeing.
It makes sense to look next at an aqua park and anyone who has visited Lithgow’s Lake Lyell over the past few summers would have seen just how many Bathurst families have also made the trip to take advantage of the Aqua Blitz fun park there. Clearly there is a demand for this type of facility.
The challenge for councillors and the developer, however, is to find a way for the aqua park to work alongside current dam users rather than at their expense.
At last week’s council meeting, Bathurst Pan Dragons and Western Region Dragon Boats representatives used public question time to raise concerns about the impact of an aqua park on current dam users.
The proposed siting of the aqua park will see it dominate the dam’s main public access area, including the boat ramp where dragon boaters and other boaters and anglers launch their craft.
Then there is the pressure that would naturally be placed on the car park by an influx of new dam users, a car park that is already stretched at times over the summer months.
That could mean a tricky juggling act for all stakeholders to ensure the dam remains available to all.
We all want to see the aqua park become a reality but the needs of current dam users must not be pushed aside in favour of commercial interests.