Byron Shire Council is calling for public suggestions as to how to spend the $3 million on infrastructure projects in the north of the shire it made from the controversial land sales of the former ‘Roundhouse’ site at Ocean Shores.
But many locals says that’s only half of what council should have realised from the property sales and council should have doubled that money.
The process was highly questionable and non-transparent, they said in letters to local newspapers following the sales.
Critics of the way council handled the sales say ratepayers could easily have received up to $6 million if the blocks were sold on the open market at auction, rather than a closed-tender process.
This was borne out soon after the tender process as some of the properties were onsold, without any improvements, for almost double what they were originally bought for, giving the lucky tenderers a major windfall.
And council had selected just one local real-estate agent to undertake the tender process.
In a press release issued yesterday, mayor Simon Richardson said the land from the ‘Roundhouse’ was sold last year, with ‘net income from the sale’ at $3.8 million, of which $800,000 will be spent on new projects and $3 million on asset renewal projects, north of Brunswick River.
‘Of the $3.8 million, $466,700 has already been allocated to the pavement renewal of Kolora Way between Shara Boulevard and Natan Court, plus a further $467,268.05 for the new works of the North Ocean Shores Sport Fields,’ Cr Richardson said.
The North Byron Shire funding allocation is part of council’s Fit for the Future program, which the mayor said was ‘a key component to help us address our infrastructure backlog’.
Cr Richardson said council has shortlisted 13 potential projects ‘and we need your help to prioritise the works’.
But he said ‘the tough part’ was that not all the projects could be done with the $3 million.
‘Like any household budget, we have a dollar limit that we need to work within,’ Cr Richardson said in the public-relations exercise.
‘There are plenty of places where the money could be spent in the north. This is your opportunity to help us distribute the funds,’ he said.
To that end, council has created a budget allocator to help out.
‘Jump online choose the projects that add up to the budget and hit submit. The challenge is you need to stick to our budget,’ the mayor said.
‘If you believe there are other projects that should be considered, let us know,’ he said.
Those without a computer have been urged to call 6685 9300 to ‘complete your budget over the phone’.
The 13 shortlisted projects include road reconstructions at Kolora Way (stage 2), Coomburra Crescent, Wahlooga Way, Yamble Drive and Orana Road in Ocean Shores. Beach Avenue, Peter, Robin and Helen Streets in South Golden Beach. River Street and The Esplanade in New Brighton.
The projects range in price from $200,000 to over a $1 million.
‘Plus, the community are being asked to choose from spending $330,000 at either Water Lily Park in Ocean Shores OR split amongst spaces at Fern Beach Playground ($59,000), South Golden Beach Hall Playground ($59,000), Waterlily Park Playscape ($100,000) and Devines Hill board walk and amenity improvements ($112,000),’ he said.
Feedback is required by Monday 9 May. Visit http://yoursaybyronshire.com.au/north-byron-shire-infrastructure to fill out the budget form or drop into an information stand at the New Brighton Farmers Markets on Tuesday, 19 April, and 26 April.
Staff will also be at the Ocean Shores Shopping Centre from 2pm to 6pm on Tuesday 19 April and 26 April.
Media Communication Officer