$16m sports facility plan approved

THEY’VE waited 25 years, but that wait for new sports facilities at Byron Bay appears to be finally over.

At an extraordinary Byron Shire Council meeting on Tuesday, councillors voted to go ahead with a revised $16 million Byron Regional Sport and Cultural Complex project and to fund a budget blow-out of $1,678,700 by applying to the Minister for Local Government for a one per cent rate increase to raise $1,158,700, and by using $520,000 from Section 94 open space funds for Byron Bay/Suffolk Park.

The council already has $9 million for the project from Federal Government grants, but was in danger of losing the money because a recent report to the council had put the cost of the project at $23 million, well above the projected $14 million.

Council’s general manager, Graeme Faulkner, had earlierrecommended the project be scrapped and the $9 million be handed back to the Federal Government.

But the council gave the project a stay of execution and told quantity surveyors Altus Page Kirkland (APK) to provide a revised estimate for the project.

Details of the revised estimate of $16.848 million were presented to Tuesday’s meeting.

Speaking at the meeting for the Byron Bay Sports Association, Australian Olympic legend Herb Elliott said the group was not expecting a ‘Rolls Royce complex, just a Holden’.

He said the association would do anything to meet the council’s budget.

“There is absolutely no pressure here to overspend,” he said.

“We all shared in the good fortune of getting $9 million for the project, then disbelief when council’s general manager recommended that it be given back, then relief again when council agreed to send the project back to the drawing board and come up with a new price.

“This sports complex will be anasset to the community, and it will help change the party image ofByron Bay into the image of a sporting town.”

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