MUSWELLBROOK Shire Council has welcomed the announcement of the first round of grants from the Ridgelands Community Fund.
Established last year, arising out of the granting of a mining exploration licence to Ridgelands Coal Resources in 2013, the $5 million fund aims to invest in the development of areas in which the company operates.
The five member Ridgelands Community Fund Investment Committee, which includes Ridgelands, community and Muswellbrook Shire Council representatives, met last month to review 19 applications for funding.
Impressed with the diversity of the applications received, the committee reiterated its commitment to allocating the $5 million efficiently and to the benefit of the whole community, with a focus on social welfare projects, road safety and sporting activities.
Applications sought funding for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure, environmental conservation works, research, training and education, community welfare and events.
Council submitted nine applications for funding to the committee – and has received approval for three of those.
The Sandy Hollow Masterplan project will receive $80,000.
In presenting the project to the committee, Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush noted that funds would bring the works forward by four years.
The Upper Hunter Innovation Hub received $300,000, money that will assist in the ongoing development of the centre and encourage growth in the areas of education and research, small business innovation and tourism within the town centre.
The Ridgelands Precinct Road Safety Improvements Investigation will collect $60,000.
The community has expressed concerns about the safety of Ridgelands Road and the funds will enable further investigation.
Six additional applications included the expansion of Denman Memorial Park, expanding the rebuilding project at Denman Memorial Hall, a Learn-to-Swim pool at the Muswellbrook Aquatic Centre, the expansion of Denman Children’s Centre, a biodiversity connectivity project and a dance and flexible performance space.
These applications, which require further information to be provided to the committee, will be reviewed and considered when the committee meets again later this month to finalise the fund.
Cr Rush said grants from the Ridgelands Community Fund gave council an opportunity to leverage as much as possible from the state and federal governments.
“It also gives Ridgelands Coal Resources the opportunity to leave a legacy 10 times larger than the fund itself,” he explained.
“The projects are sustainable, stand on their own and are projects the community can be proud of."