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Mayor says Billabong Parklands green light was rushed through in 2018

Campbelltown mayor George Greiss has criticised the original decision to give the green light to the Billabong Parklands proposal.

But he does not plan to stop it or scale it back.

In a mayoral minute for tonight’s council meeting, Cr Greiss says “approving the project was part of what I believe was a rushed resolution relating to the City Deal’’.

He was absent from that extraordinary meeting, held in August 2018.

“A fundamental commitment made by Campbelltown Council that day was to commit $3.75 million and accept a contribution of $15 million from the State and Federal Government ($7.5 million each) to build the Campbelltown Billabong at Apex Park, Bradbury under the City Deal’s $150 million Liveability Program,’’ he says in the mayoral minute.

However, he took part in an online meeting in December 2020, when council selected one of three options presented and resolved to increase its contribution to the project by an additional $12.25 million, bringing the total project budget to $31 million.

“Unlike the first meeting, the voting for this motion had 4 votes recorded against the increase, of which I was one,’’ says Cr Greiss.

A report by officers included in the business paper for tonight’s meeting says the Billabong Parklands project will be delivered within the allocated budget by September 2023.

“While I believe that such a timeline is optimistic, I am sure that our professional staff understand how important this project is, and they will do all they can to achieve the stated targets,’’ says the mayor.

Cr Greiss says that while he voted against the increased burden to the ratepayers, he believes that the decision to build and expand the Billabong Parklands project was made in good faith by the councillors who voted for it, and “that resolution should be respected’’.

“Regardless of my personal view on the project, I believe any attempt to hinder this project would not be in the spirit of the Local Government Act 1993, the Councillors Handbook 2021 or my commitment to respect the Council resolutions that have occurred in the past,’’ he says in the mayoral minute.

Cr Greiss also discusses the estimated operating cost of the Billabong Parklands and reveals the running cost to the ratepayer of existing infrastructure.

“It is unclear at this stage as to the exact yearly cost; however, a rough estimate would be in the magnitude of $2 million per year,’’ he says.

“This may seem like a high ongoing cost for the project. However, when we consider the size of the project which sits within a four hectare site (10 acres) and incorporates a main swimming lagoon approximately 1,600 square metres in size, a smaller children’s pool, cascades, streams, a splash play area and amenities together with the associated maintenance and operations of a site of this scale and level of inclusions, it is not unreasonable.

“Council subsidises the operation of many of our assets, for example, Campbelltown Arts Centre to the magnitude of $2.38 million, the Campbelltown Stadium to the magnitude of $1.62m, our leisure centres to the magnitude of $3.01m and our libraries to the magnitude of $4.25m.’’

  • The meeting tonight starts from 6.30pm. It will also be livestreamed via the council website.

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