Byron Shire Council has been accused of using gibberish on its latest piece of signage, advising locals it is seeking Expressions of Interest for the site of the old South Byron Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) on Broken Head Road.
‘I saw this sign at the start of the Suffolk Park bike track,’ wrote reader Patrick Campbell, who described it as ‘a fine example of gibberish masking some ulterior motive’.
Another local resident Louise Andrews described, the area as ‘a haven of wildlife and tranquillity’.
‘The ominously vague notice seeks expressions of interest from “suitably qualified and experienced members of the public…to partner with Council in the master planning and development of this strategic site.”
‘Who are these suitably qualified people? What development is planned?’ she queried.
‘Ah, “Council has a vision for community benefit.”
‘Hello, the community is already enjoying the benefit of this unspoiled and ecologically delicate area, Ms Andrews said.
Further, Council also envisions “environmental, social and economic outcomes”.
‘Tell that to the birds, the thousands of birds that feed and shelter and breed in these beautiful wetlands.
‘In a town gone crazy it is becoming increasingly difficult for residents to find places away from the madding crowds, places offering serenity and a chance to simply immerse in the beauty of the natural world,’ Ms Andrews said.
But the council says there is a perfectly legitimate reason for the opaque wording on the sign near the entrance to the old STP site.
‘To ensure we don’t stifle innovation in the EoI process, Council hasn’t specified land use or development requirements for the site and is open to all options,’ acting GM Mark Arnold said.
‘We are excited about exploring what the private and non-government sectors, including not-for-profits, philanthropists and other groups can bring to the table as part of the EoI process,’ he added.
Given the strategic location of the 7.76 hectare site at the southern entrance to Byron Bay, the council believes has the potential to ‘host a landmark development’ that will be ‘a catalyst to stimulate social, community and environmental benefits in particular, but also beneficial economic outcomes for Council and ratepayers,’ according to Council’s website.
But the sting, as always, is in the tail – the council is reliant on a private partnership as it doesn’t want to sell the land but doesn’t have the resources to do anything itself.
‘Retaining key sites such as this decommissioned South Byron Sewage Treatment Plant as an asset for long-term community benefit presents us with a significant opportunity to find a suitable partner and achieve outcomes for the community that Council simply cannot achieve on its own, due to funding constraints,’ Mr Arnolds said.
The 7.76 hectare site operated as the South Byron STP from 1972 until it was decommissioned in 2005. Prior to this, the site hosted ‘night cart’ operations from 1909.
The site is the former South Byron STP and demolition works were undertaken in 2016 resulting in the removal of infrastructure relating to the treatment plant. Remediation of the site by Council is underway and says it will be completed at the same time as the EoI process.
But regardless of what plans roll in, Ms Andrews has a parting shot for the council about her favourite site.
‘Green or Greed? Leave 1 Broken Head Road alone!’