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Friday, April 19, 2024

Leasing decision causes uproar

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A DECISION to renew a lease to farmers for land originally intended for recreation has caused some consternation amongst residents.

At the latest council meeting, on September 27, a motion was put forward to renew the lease for the land, which is about 90 hectares and known as Havengrand.

The 10-year lease expired on December 31, 2022.

The council agenda stated:

‘The purpose of this report is to consider the current arrangements for the disposal of interest in land noting both the short and long-term uses and whether council would approve continuing to enter into a further lease with DE Scodellaro Pty Ltd, GC McDowall and RS McDowall for Lot 3 on RP742888 and Lease A in SP 256304 and Lease B in SP 256304, commonly known as the Havengrand Land.

‘The original purpose for acquiring the land was to provide for future recreation uses in the longer-term plans for the region. Until the site is readily available for use, Council should consider what is the best use of that land in the interim.’

There was some lively discussion around the table at the meeting, with some councillors supporting the recommendation that council authorise the Chief Executive Officer to enter into negotiations with the above-named parties, and some not supporting it.

Cr Michelle Wright said she would be supporting it.

“We just need someone to look after the land and they have done a good job in the past,” she said.

Cr Clay Bauman, however, disagreed.

“I think we are going to have to go through the tender process anyway,” he said.

“It’s not a new lease, so we can write in these requirements…put it out for open tender and everyone can benefit.”

Mayor Julie Hall also said she thought it should go out to tender ‘in the public interest’.

The motion to renew the lease with the farmers was carried five votes to two, with Cr Bauman and the Mayor voting against it.

The decision has sparked outrage amongst residents.

“Ten years of leasing to the same cane farmer is enough!” Gary Boers, from Woodwark, said.

“The intended use of the sports park was for sports, recreation and community activities, not to grow cane.

“As the Cannonvale area is expanding, so too should available areas of community grounds be allocated and to give back to the ratepayers and have facilities established at the Brandy Creek sports park.

“The land required is only two hectares of land. Surely this is not too much to ask for?

“Furthermore, sport and recreational grant funding have been available but, again, we have missed out on available grants because council has allowed our land to be continued to be leased for growing cane without going to Public Tender. 

“Why has Council has decided in favour of canegrowers over our sports club?

“The community, as a whole, has no grounds, no facilities and had counted on the use of a small area of the huge sports park area.”

Other residents have written to the Whitsunday News on the issue – see page 6 of this newspaper.

What do you think? Write to editor@whitsundaynews.net.au

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