Members of the Roundhouse Action Group, comprising Ocean Shores residents and others fighting to retain the site, have formulated an alternative plan they say won’t require its sale by the Byron Shire Council.
Members of the Roundhouse Action Group, comprising Ocean Shores residents and others fighting to retain the site, have formulated an alternative plan they say won’t require its sale by the Byron Shire Council. Digby Hildreth

Not sold on Roundhouse sale

RESIDENTS fighting to keep a hilltop site in Ocean Shores for community use are to urge their councillors to show some vision and not sell it off for short-term gain.

They intend asking Byron Shire Council to put off any decision on the Roundhouse site for six months – time for them to formulate a business plan showing a cultural centre could be a viable alternative to the proposed subdivision and sale.

Byron's cash-strapped council has admitted it needs to sell the site to balance its books, and will vote on theissue on Thursday.

A sale offers ‘the opportunity to realise a large financial return that could be used for a range of uses, including a much-needed refurbishment and upgrade of its extensive existing assets', the council has stated.

However, Jan Mangleson, Ocean Shores Community Association (OSCA) president, yesterday asked: “Where is council's business plan on exactly how this money will be spent? Is this site going to be sold just to be used for ‘refurbishment and upgrade'?

“In other words, for maintenance? Potholes? Fixing up old buildings? Is that a wise use of the best asset council owns?”

She also described council's plans to borrow $1 million to develop the site – for a possible $2.6 million return – as short-sighted, as well as overly optimistic.

Ms Mangleson and 20 concerned residents at the Ocean Shores Country Club yesterday outlined a more creative use of the site – adevelopment that blended cultural needs with the possibility of some residential facilities.

The shire badly needed such a cultural centrepiece, said architect and artist Jerry Cook, who has designed an alternative project that add-resses these needs.

Mr Cook said the $16 million sportsfields and cultural centre being built at Ewingsdale had no real cultural component.

“This council is not concerned about culture at all. It's only concern is with cash flow,” he said.

But the Roundhouse site could be a source of income for the council and the community for years to come, he said.

“The council should look into the future, and see that a cultural centre at the site would ensure millions of dollars in returns, and a cultural investment for future generations,” he said.

Mr Cook said to subdivide and sell it off would be a huge loss for the council and the community.

The Roundhouse group is asking people to come to Thursday's council meeting at 9am to give their support.



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