THE debate around the location for Bathurst's go-kart track will continue to be a topic of discussion at Bathurst Regional Council meetings, with another notice of motion on the issue to be considered on Wednesday night.
Councillor Jess Jennings has submitted a notice of motion recommending that council take the following actions:
- conduct an economic assessment of the current and future strategic and economic value of McPhillamy Park to the Bathurst community
- conduct a Benefit-Cost Analysis of the go-kart track project (as per approved DA), including any negative externalities on McPhillamy Park and the Bathurst community
- and request or conduct a Business Case report on the expected operations of the proposed go-kart track (as per approved DA)
The request for a business case comes despite council's general manager David Sherley saying the current arrangement is consistent with arrangements council has with other community sporting groups, which have not been required to provide a business case.
Cr Jennings said that the amount council is spending to build this facility, approximately $4.5 million, warrants further due diligence.
"Because the cost has blown out so much, from $1 million to $4.5 million, I think council and ratepayers have a right to know exactly what it is and who it is we're building this go-kart track for," he said.
"Is it for locals to do go-karting seven days a week from 9am to 5pm, as it says on their website, or is it simply to get two or three tournaments a year, which is essentially more of an external event-based target audience? We just don't know.
"I really would like to know, and I've asked this already with no answers being provided, how many go-karters are going to be going around the track in your average week once it is set up and running?
"If it's for a couple of a dozen people to go go-karting once a fortnight, it would seem $4.5 million is not justified."
Mark Dunbar, the Bathurst Kart Club president, said last month that the club plans to hold four major events a year, in addition to club days, try-drive days, and bring-a-mate days.
The club currently has about 200 members, but that number is expected to increase significantly after the new membership freeze is lifted.
When asked if he thought he would have enough support to get his notice of motion passed, Cr Jennings admitted "probably not".
"But I want the other councillors to at least be given the opportunity to do the due diligence that has not been done to date, and that's their decision," he said.
He hopes they will at least agree to the economic assessment to determine the value of McPhillamy Park.
"As we have a growing population, over 40,000 people already, once we get to 50,000 people or 60,000 people in years to come, that land on top of Mount Panorama is only going to get increasingly valuable to the Bathurst community, so we have to factor that into the decision making now," he said.
"... If we don't value McPhillamy Park now and the go-kart track project proceeds, we risk losing that value because of the impact of the go-kart track on the park.
"Not valuing McPhillamy Park now, not doing the due diligence, is effectively turning a blind eye to the external costs the go-kart track will bring about on the Bathurst community."
Cr Jennings voted in support of the original development application for the go-kart track in 2015, and then again to a modification of it in 2018.
At neither time did he raise the idea of valuing McPhillamy Park.
When asked why it was only being brought up now, Cr Jennings said it was "because nobody made a squeak about it from the community".
"For whatever reason, it slipped through under the radar and since then people have realised and are very upset and concerned with the loss of McPhillamy Park, so that's why," he said.
"There was no community reaction at the time and all councillors, myself included, thought 'Well, if nobody is against this, we'll let it go through', but since then there has been a massive outcry and I think the community deserves to be listened to in this case."
The Western Advocate reported that Mount Panorama was being considered as the location for a go-kart track in January, 2015, about six months before the development application was lodged.
A public discussion forum was held in August of the same year, the minutes of that meeting listing only five speakers on the matter, with just one of them mentioning heritage.
There were four written submissions received prior to the public forum, all from residents after they were notified of the proposal.
The DA was approved the following month.