IN August 2020, I wrote a long article in the Western Advocate about the Bathurst Showground.
I said it had been neglected and was in urgent need of repair, as well as a way forward to put it on a viable footing for the future.
I received much support for my stance, but also some criticism from others who thought there was nothing wrong with the condition of the showground, nor its future.
OTHER RECENT LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
But I note that the entire board of the Bathurst Showground Land Manager had voluntarily resigned earlier the same year.
Andrew Fletcher (local accountant and military historian) had already been appointed as an administrator and unbeknown to me used my letter to support his case for funding.
In October 2020, the showground received almost $3.5 million by way of a grant from the NSW Government and the administrator set about putting it to good use.
In the past year-and-a-half, Mr Fletcher has done a sterling job making every dollar of that grant money stretch as far as it could.
Anyone visiting the showground now will marvel at how much repair, restoration and remediation work has been performed.
The showground looks better than it has for decades, and the buildings are safer to use by the public.
But that is not the end of the matter.
The undeniable fact is that the job's only partly completed. More work needs to be done on other buildings and on the land itself, which, being on a floodplain, continues to be subject to water issues across the 16-hectare site.
I'm no quantity surveyor, but it could take another $3 million to $5 million to properly finish the task of making good the accumulated damage to these heritage buildings and land.
So now the task is for a strong, new board to find more money again to finish the job and then find new ways for the showground to pay for itself in the future.
The Bathurst community are the majority stakeholders of these wonderful heritage buildings and land they sit on, and the board must reflect their representation to ensure the excellent work of the Land Manager over the past 20 months is not wasted.
The new members (all volunteers) of the Bathurst Showground Land Manager Board will need sufficient vision, leadership and commercial skills to finish the job and put the showground on a viable footing for the future.