Hawks Nest Tea Gardens Progress Association update

After several Work Order requests from HNTGPA, the unsafe Lions Park Road has been repaired by the MCC with more road improvements in the pipeline – including the Myall Way.

WELL winter solstice has come and gone so spring is on the way.

Good news upfront, the Hawks Nest Providence Bay exercise equipment has been ordered and is being purpose built in Australia for installation before summer.

To this end, we have acquitted a $50k deposit and will be seeking a variation to install robust commercial solar lighting at the Tea Gardens skatepark and Lions Lookout from MidCoast Council (MCC) and Regional NSW.

I am also informed by MCC that the installation of additional outside showers and landscaping works will commence in August at Hawks Nest beach.

This work is being supported by our volunteers, including from the Myall River Art Walk Group, who are gardening, painting, and supporting maintenance of our local amenities, footpaths, beaches, and parks.

We are also anticipating much-needed upgrades to several roads, parks, and the Tea Gardens pool (with volunteers continuing to assist – thank you!).

We also had our first of three annual Bunnings Fundraising BBQs, which raised $1200, which is a fantastic outcome.
The funds directly support safe volunteer activities, as well as community events and improvements.

This week on Wednesday 28 June 2023 the MCC has an Ordinary Meeting.

Following consultation with the Management Committee, I wrote to the MCC Councillors and Executives expressing concerns about their intended use of Developer Contributions with respect to the delayed Hawks Nest Community Hall Upgrade Project.

It is important to note that the HNTGPA has and continues to strongly support the timely and priority completion of the delayed upgrade to the Hawks Nest Community Hall which was commenced by MCC four years ago (in August 2019) with an Australian Government grant of $300k.

It is our only community hall, and it needs substantive improvement.

The project has been delayed and now the costs appear to have increased (up from the grant of $300k although the actual amount of the project is now unclear).

At this MCC Ordinary Meeting, Council Executives are seeking approval to “borrow” $300k from the ‘2014 Tea Gardens District Section 94 Contributions Plan’.

Note that in 2007, $500k was also ‘borrowed’ from our Open Spaces fund so that the MCC could purchase land in Tea Gardens for a carpark in 2007 (note the car park remains incomplete seventeen years later).

This money has not been repaid nor reallocated by MCC.

Approval at this Ordinary Meeting would equate to an overall $800k gap in our (now dated) ‘2014 Tea Gardens District Section 94 Contributions Plan’ with no clear timeframe for repayment nor any analysis of the adverse impact on other incomplete or yet to be commenced local projects.

This agenda item also raises concerns about the project management capability, budget management, and transparent and timely delivery of this and other local projects by the MCC.

Several other local projects are already over time, over budget etc; in particular the Hawks Nest Fishing Platform Upgrade ($53,268), the Tea Gardens Library Upgrade ($379,280), and the very overdue Tea Gardens Pontoon and Jetty at Apex Park ($370,000).

Outstanding footpath and road upgrades have already been reported.

We will continue to monitor and advocate for improvements.

In addition, the HNTGPA Management Committee will be carefully reviewing the draft Asset Management Plan 2023 – 2032 (Open Spaces and Swimming Pools) and the still pending review report on local pool management.

We remain strongly committed to improving the Tea Gardens Pool in its current location (plant and facility), as well as all our local public spaces, amenities, and infrastructure.

Next a great update on our Scout Hall!

Community groups interested in using the community-built hall can contact Scouts NSW by calling the Hunter Coastal Region Office 1300 858 464 or emailing: nigel.reece@nsw.scouts.com.au.
Any issues or concerns should be escalated to property@scoutsaustraliansw.zendesk.com.

Finally, I need to call out ‘trolls’ in our community who pointlessly personally criticize invaluable local volunteers.

Constructive ideas are valued but we can exercise our rights to focus on improving our shared spaces and community, rather than simply ‘having a go’ at our local volunteers, or at each other.

Consider joining the Progress Association or other volunteer groups to help lobby Council and government and to ‘walk the talk’.

I hope to see you at our next General Meeting at the Tea Gardens Hotel on Monday 17 July from 6.30pm in the Dolphin Room.

By Bruce MURRAY, President, Hawks Nest Tea Gardens Progress Association

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