Sports park consultation coming

THE Whitsunday Regional Council will make its next decision regarding a new sports park at the end of next month.

The Council has engaged a major consultancy, GHD, to undertake a comprehensive community consultation process with residents on land and facility needs for future sport and recreation use.

The move follows Council's decision to enter into negotiations to buy Havengrand – a 95 acre property at Mount Marlow.

This decision became a controversial one as some Whitsunday residents questioned the purchase and others claimed the land was unsuitable and too expensive.

As a result, the purchase has been put on hold and Council voted to undertake further community consultation.

GHD was engaged by the previous Whitsunday Shire Council in 2005 to prepare the shire-wide Open Space and Recreation Study.

This study first identified the need to increase land supply for future sportsgrounds.

Council's CEO, Mr John Finlay said Council was seeking to clarify several issues that had been identified by the community.

“GHD's consultation approach will encourage widespread public involvement to identify what the district's sport and recreation needs are, and what should be done in future,” Mr Finlay said.

“GHD will seek the community's ideas, aspirations and concerns to help shape a realistic plan for the future sports park, including feedback on land area requirements, potential activities, the facilities mix and site location,” he said.

“Participation of residents and sporting groups is essential to provide a fully informed outcome and hopefully in turn, it will assist in attracting external funding as the project moves forward.”

He said the study's results would also help guide Council's decision-making on the suitability of sites for future sports park development.

Mr Finlay said residents and community organisations would have several opportunities to participate in the consultation program throughout June and July.

Public meetings, online surveys and discussions with sporting groups would be held.

These activities will start later this month.

It is expected that a report from GHD will be presented to the Council meeting in Bowen on July 27.

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