Kids? camp splits Wardell

By DAWN COHEN

A PROPOSAL for a $2 million environmental educational facility for disadvantaged kids in Wardell could split the village, Brian McDougall warned the community on Thursday night. About 50 people attended a meeting at the Wardell Memorial Hall, organised by the Wardell Residents Association, to discuss the development application.

The 6.576 hectare property, at the bottom of Pine Street, is partly zoned as environmental protection (habitat) zone.

Michael Newman, a former undercover narcotics police officer, said the family company John Atherfield House Pty Ltd was bankrolling the proposed camping facility, aimed at educating disadvantaged youth about the environment.

A mess hall, 40 tents including 10 framed safari tents, two ablution blocks, three residences, a pool and a storage shed are planned.

The Wardell community would have access to a pool and 10 metre catamaran.

In an impassioned debate, some locals argued the offer was a boon for the town.

But well-known resident, Brian McDougall did not want the community blinded by what he saw as a bribe.

"There are too many grey areas," he said.

"This will affect the whole of Wardell.

"We must stay united and read the development application carefully."

Mr Newman denied it was a bribe.

"I was shocked at the meeting's reaction," he said yesterday.

"If someone offers you a pool and a boat, you should just say thank you."

John Atherfield House Pty Ltd is solely owned by his family, Mr Newman confirmed.

The facility will be not-forprofit, but members of his family working for the facility will receive a salary.

"He changes what he says each time you talk to him," said local, Sylvia Redmayne.

"It is impossible to know what his true intentions are."

Mr Newman said he could not be specific about the facilities' intended customers. "I can't say we won't have adults. We will judge each sit- uation on its merits."



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