Pressure is mounting on the state government to either donate land for an indoor sports centre at Ballina or provide a long-term lease.
The old council depot off Tamarind Drive, across from Ballina Fair shopping centre, has been identified as the best site for a sports centre.
But the land is under the control of the Crown Lands department, which wants the council to acquire the land at market value.
In a motion to be discussed at tomorrow’s Ballina Shire Council meeting, Cr Jeff Johnson said the council should try to have the matter resolved prior to the next state election in March next year.
Cr Johnson wants the council to write to Ballina MP Don Page, Labor candidate Paul Spooner and Greens candidate Tamara Smith seeking endorsement for either a transfer of ownership or a long-term lease.
Cr Johnson said the council had investigated a number of sites for the proposed sports centre, along with undertaking a soil contamination assessment at the depot site.
‘The state government has previously written to council advising that if the sports centre is located on the depot site we will need to acquire it under the Just Terms Compensation Act at its assessed market value,’ he said.
‘This has the potential to add hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs to this project and it also means that there remains significant uncertainty over the preferred location for the sports centre, as the proposed acquisition price is unknown. ‘
Cr Johnson acknowledged that the council had made a submission to the state government as part of the Crown Lands White Paper Review for the land to be transferred to council’s control.
But he said as the timeframe for that was uncertain, the council should try and have the matter resolved prior to the election.
‘The depot site is a prime site on Ballina Island and the land is not being used to its potential due to this issue of ownership. A proactive approach by council is needed to deliver a much-needed facility for Ballina,’ he said.
Ballina candidate Tamara Smith said recently there was a desperate need for a sports centre in Ballina that met the needs of the growing population.
‘At present, there is no indoor sports facility in Ballina and sporting groups are forced to use a single indoor court at Southern Cross High School that is inadequate to meet their needs and growing membership.’