Not everyone is convinced the Central Coast Leagues Club Field is the best site for a Performing Arts Centre (PAC) in Gosford.
Former Gosford Councillor, Ms Vicki Scott, addressed the February 22 Council meeting and called on the Administrator, Mr Ian Reynolds, to “consider what is best for the community”.
“In my experience on this matter, over the last 13 years, the community’s preferred site for the entertainment centre has been the site previously occupied by Gosford Public School,” Ms Scott said.
“Throughout various discussions and consultations, the site remained the preferred site,” she said.
“There were other sites which were seriously considered, such as that now known as Poppy Park, but the community has become, understandably, more emotionally tied to that site, so it would be unsuitable now.
“I am told that two sites which are at this point being looked at by Council are the remainder of the school site … and the site commonly known as the Leagues Club Park.
“The community prefers the school site.
“There should be an opportunity for Council to purchase that site at the same cost as the neighbouring site was sold to the Doma Group for the construction of the ATO.
“The Leagues Club Park has never before been considered for the Entertainment Centre.
“In fact, it has always, over the last 10 years, been earmarked for a City Playground, with remaining space being left as open space.
“At one point, a suggestion was made that a smaller version of the Gosford Aquatic Centre be constructed in the corner of the site directly opposite the Leagues Club to replace the current Aquatic Centre, but that didn’t last long.
“The community made it known that the idea was a poor one.
“Gosford Council’s Playground Committee campaigned for years for a city playground to be developed.
“The vision was of a playground such as those seen in Townsville and Brisbane be developed for residents and to attract visitors from other areas of the State.
“It would be a huge tourist attraction if done right.
“At no stage did anyone argue against this or discuss other uses for the site.
“During the Gosford Challenge, when they were planning a draft masterplan, Lendlease came to the committee to discuss the matter with us and to make sure their plans reflect what we, and the community, wanted for the site.
“Since then, the Playground Committee played a waiting game (as did we all with the waterfront), but was always determined that eventually the City Playground would be built on that site.
“It is hugely important for open and useable space to be left on the waterfront.
“It is such a small waterfront, and open space could easily be lost in the progress, should we ever have progress.
“While I am not saying there should be no development on the waterfront, I am most certainly saying that the site known as the Leagues Club Park should only be used for the playground and open space, and the Performing Arts Centre should be built on what remains of the school site.
“It is also hugely important that the community has a voice in choosing the site.
“It has been involved along the line so far and this would be the wrong time to stop listening to the community.
“The waterfront is valued by the community as a whole.
“We don’t want it destroyed by constructing a building on land which has long been considered an open space, and used as such on a daily basis.
“It needs to be family friendly, and that can be sustained by a performing arts centre on the school site and a playground and open space on Leagues Club Field,” Ms Scott said.
Long-standing Liberal party member, former Gosford Mayor and local MP, Mr Malcolm Brooks, said he was very disappointed with the State Government’s decision to go ahead with the Department of Finance building next to the ATO on the former school site and with Council’s selection of the Leagues Club Field for the RPAC.
“Our local, state and federal government all seem to be reactionary at the moment, no one seems to have a visionary outlook,” Mr Brooks said.
“I think Leagues Club Field has got a lot of problems,” he said.
Mr Brooks said he believed some of the land was Crown Land and subject to Native Title claims.
“If they are going to locate it on the western side of Leagues Club Park, it will block the views of the Leagues Club members from their waterside function rooms and they will be up in arms,” he said.
“Who is making that ridiculous decision?
“If I was on the Council now, I would be doing my best to negotiate with the State Government to acquire or lease the remainder of the school site,” he said.
“The by-election is coming up, so the community can make it clear they don’t want the State Finance Office or the third part of the school site developed.
“They want the third site given back to the community for a very generous price and they want that commitment from both party’s candidates.
“I haven’t lived here all my life and been on Council and in Parliament to see that waterfront become a precinct for office workers and a haven for public servants,” he said.
Feb 22, 2017
Vicky Scott, Narara
Mar 7, 2017
Malcolm Brooks, East Gosford
Jackie Pearson, journalist