Run-off at the Evans Head Aerodrome which Dr Richard Gates claims is not being properly managed. Photo Contributed
Run-off at the Evans Head Aerodrome which Dr Richard Gates claims is not being properly managed. Photo Contributed Contributed

Council deal heavily criticised

THE president of the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee has continued his assault on the Richmond Valley Council over its handling of the aerodrome redevelopment.

Long time critic of aspects of the redevelopment, Dr Richard Gates claims the council has subsidised the regional retirement village to the tune of about $10 million including a "gift" of 24 residential blocks at the site for public sale.

He says the village is not the right location for a proposed aged care facility for reasons of noise and safety and that the council has not developed a business plan to ensure ratepayers are getting value for their money.

He also remains critical of the council's management of decontamination run-off at the site, which he says has been allowed to flow straight into nearby waterways

"Council has reached some sort of heads-of-agreement with the proponent, but who knows what that confidential deal entails," Dr Gates said.

"I am quite happy with them building a museum at Evans Head, I think that is a great idea, an economic driver and befitting the status of the aerodrome.

"But you can build a nursing home on other more suitable sites."

Dr Gates said the sale of almost 10 ha for $3.9 million including the 24 blocks and the cost of moving a council depot on the site, combined with legal and consultants costs, meant "ratepayers are providing somewhere between $10 and $12 million by way of subsidy" for the development.

In response, the Richmond Valley Council has continued to defend its role in the development.

Council general manager Brian Wilkinson said the site was the only one available for an aged care facility as other potential sites were subject to native title.

He also said the proposed sale price, which remains confidential, is based on a valuation by a qualified valuer and certified valuation prices.

In relation to the lack of a business plan for the development, Dr Gates said the council was given an exemption because they argued they already have a whole management plan that covers the aerodrome, but that management plan does not have all the detail required of a business plan.

Mr Wilkinson did not specifically address Dr Gates' concerns regarding a lack of business plan-style detail in the management plan.

In relation to the management of run-off, Dr Gates said huge amounts of sediment laden water have been allowed to escape the site. And he provided photos to demonstrate.

"Huge amounts of fertilizer are being released into the waterways which have very little nutrients," Dr Gates said.

Mr Wilkinson said erosion control measures including silt fences were put in place at the site in accordance with an environmental management plan.



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