By Margaret Maccoll
Determined by Council-endorsed working and reference groups, concept designs for Cooroy’s $5 million nature-based, all-abilities playground on a former sawmill site were released this week with high praise from Councillors at Monday’s General Committee meeting.
Council obtained a $2.8 million grant for the project with Council’s input to be about $2.3 million
Ratepayers will pay a one-off $11 or 1% increase in the general rate.
Cr Ingrid Jackson, who was absent from the meeting, posted on Facebook that in addition to $345,000 already spent by Council ongoing annual maintenance and operational costs were estimated at $300,000 plus annual budgeted depreciation costs of about $200,000.
She questioned whether the expense was the best use of ratepayer’s money and said she would not support the “non-strategic asset”. Cr Frank Pardon said the playground provided an additional opportunity to provide an extra 60 car parks and the “pedestrianisation” of the area between the library and playground site that Cooroy which had been called for in the area.
“It will be a fantastic outcome not just for Cooroy but for the whole shire,” he said.
Mayor Tony Wellington likened the project to the Park Road boardwalk and described it as a “place-making opportunity for Cooroy” that residents would be proud of once they see it completed.
The meeting heard the public had not previously been consulted as the playground’s design concepts had to first be tested and put through risk assessment.
“This isn’t a playground like any other playground. It’s a highly engineered, superbly crafted infrastructure,” Cr Wellington said. Recommendations were made at the meeting to release the concept plans for public consultation, conduct a site flood study, complete a contaminated land check and develop 3D imagery as well as authorise staff to call for Expressions of Interest for the design, construction and maintenance of the playground.The decision will be finalised at Council’s Ordinary Meeting on Thursday from 6pm.