Port Stephens Council asked to answer questions on costs of BMX track

Kate Washington MP has called on Port Stephens Council to disclose the total cost to ratepayers of the Mayor’s failed BMX Bike track.

In August 2015, 50 -60 truckloads of dirt was dumped in the car park of the Salt Ash Pony Club grounds, known as the “Bruce Mackenzie Complex”.

According to an interview that was given by the Mayor Bruce Mackenzie, he had the dirt delivered to the site for a BMX track.

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Unfortunately there was no process or plan for a BMX track approved by Council nor a development application.
The user of the grounds were opposed to the plan.

Port Stephens Council initially announced that the soil had been tested and was free of contamination.
However on 30 September the EPA issued a $45,000 fine to Port Stephens Council due to the soil containing potentially harmful acid sulphate.

The company engaged by the Council to test the soil, was also fined for providing a false report.
Media reports state that Port Stephens Council has set aside $40,000 for the BMX bike project.

“Port Stephens Council staff have acted as directed by the Mayor and ratepayers are paying the price, they just don’t know how much,” Kate Washington MP told Bay News Of The Area.

Costs that are known and anticipated are $45,000 to the EPA, and the cost of transporting contaminated soil to the site.

More costs by engaging contractors to treat the soil on site on numerous occasions, engaging Cardno Pty Ltd to test the soil (Cardno was fined $16,000 by the EPA for supplying a false report.)

More costs incurred are for the removal and legal disposal of contaminated soil, the redirection of Council staff time in responding to and justifying the Mayor’s actions.

“From the outset there has not been any proper planning or oversight of this project, it’s just the Mayor doing as he pleases without any regard for other users of the grounds,” Kate Washington said.

“There’s never been any community consultation or even an assessment of the risks of a BMX bike track operating in the same area as young children on ponies.”Ms Washington added.

“It beggars belief that our Council can spend money on a campaign against illegal dumping and at the same time, be fined by the EPA for the unlawful use of land as a waste facility.”

Kate Washington believes that our community deserves transparent and honest governance by its Council.

“Our community deserves transparent and honest governance by its Council. It’s time for Port Stephens Council to come clean with our community about the total cost of the BMX Bike track debacle,” Kate Washington said.

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