RATEPAYERS are being asked to provide their views on more than $20 million worth of “priority” projects that will improve services to residents, stimulate the local economy, provide new entertainment opportunities for the community and attract visitors to the region.
Muswellbrook Shire Council is continuing to pursue the ambitious set of priorities captured after extensive community consultation and reflected in the Muswellbrook Community Strategic Plan.
To fund the implementation of these projects, councillors unanimously resolved to place two possibilities before the community for feedback.
The first option includes a permanent, one-off increase of 12.5 per cent (18.5 per cent for mining rates, both including the 2.5 per cent rate peg) from 2018/19 which will fund:
* Improvements in stormwater management, particularly in Denman
* Upgrades to Muswellbrook’s Olympic Park precinct
* A new Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre; and, significantly,
* Additional support for job creation across the shire; and
* A “catch-up” of $62,000 in rating caused by mining related environmental offsets.
The second option will increase rates by the anticipated 2.5 per cent rate peg.
Council’s present works program will continue within existing resources.
“We’ve carefully considered community priorities and now ask local residents to let us know their views on these options,” Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush said.
“Council has no predetermined view on the options.
“We will continue to deliver balanced budgets and the high standard of services and infrastructure our community expects of its council.”
A Master Plan for the Muswellbrook Olympic Park Precinct Upgrade was developed in close consultation with key user groups.
It includes field improvements; additional amenities; improved, safe access; new car parking; additional storage; additional vehicle and bus connections; better cycleway and pedestrian connections; and design work for a regional standard grandstand to attract larger sporting fixtures.
“The options council is asking the community to consider will deliver significantly improved facilities to all the families that use Olympic Park,” councillor spokesperson for community engagement Cr Steven Reynolds said.
“It will increase car parking and enhance road safety.
“We’ve worked closely with Olympic Park user groups and they solidly support the proposal.”
Council’s also undertaken a comprehensive audit of the stormwater system to identify areas of need, including Denman, Merton Street, the industrial estate, Possum Gully, Bell Street, Mill Street and St Heliers Street.
Meanwhile, the new concept for the Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre features a 500-seat theatre, stage, orchestra pit, back of house and associated car parking.
It will be capable of hosting traveling performances, local productions and regional conventions – at the site of the Brook Street Plaza.
“Council has listened to the community over the past 12 months and refined the original concept for a regional performance space,” councillor spokesperson for the arts Cr Jason Foy said.
“We are eager to get feedback on the Entertainment and Conference Centre proposal.
“It will add a new level of entertainment, performance and recreational opportunities for our shire’s local families.
“As well as this, it will bring visitors from the wider region and new economic activity.”
The community can have its say on this proposal by:
* Participating in the telephone survey to be conducted by Jetty Research from November 27;
* Completing an online survey from November 27 until December 11;
* Providing feedback at ‘Listening Posts’ in various locations across the shire; or
* Providing feedback, during the public exhibition period, on the plans for the Olympic Park precinct and the Entertainment and Conference Centre
“The consultation has confirmed ongoing community support to cement Muswellbrook as the ‘regional centre’ for the Upper Hunter – with the infrastructure to match – such as an Entertainment and Conference Centre and quality regional sporting facilities,” Cr Rush said.
“Whatever the outcome, Muswellbrook ratepayers will continue to pay among the lowest rates in the Hunter.”
Information relating to the proposed Special Rate Variation and proposed projects can be found at www.muswellbrook.nsw.gov.au