Snowy Valleys Council residents are putting their heads together to come up with ideas for how an upcoming $8.5 million in infrastructure grants could potentially be spent.
The money comes from the state government, and its use will be decided on by Administrator Paul Sullivan along with a panel of relevant stakeholders. A key priority for the decision making process is community consultation, with workshops to be held from January 18 across the shire.
In the meantime, several viable ideas have been floated.
Former Mayor Trina Thomson believes that the money should go towards projects that will improve the long-term economic success of the region: “We need to look at, how do we attract other dollars rather than just spending what’s there?” she said.
Mrs Thomson would like to see investment in the timber industry, to ensure the continuing viability of the region’s key sector for local jobs and investment.
“Trees in the ground is absolutely vital, so this is an opportunity to look at lobbying for more plantations,” she said.
“What’s happening is that we’re running out of trees in the ground which means that we are going to have to start importing timber from overseas, and that’s crazy. The life cycle of a tree is about a 30 year cycle, so we need to be planting trees now. It’s no good getting to 30 years time and going ‘oh, we have no trees left.’ It’s about economic growth and development.”
Another option would be improving the tourism pull by beautifying key areas of our towns. The Batlow Development League would like to see the caravan park moved to a more attractive location, as well as potentially developing a cold weather botanic gardens for locals and visitors to enjoy.
“The idea would be to make a corridor, a cold climate garden corridor – including pioneer park with the creek running through it there, and making a lake where the swamp is when you come into the town,” said League member Margaret Isselmann.
“We don’t have any botanical style gardens anywhere in the shire so it would be an attraction for the whole shire.”
In Tumut, locals would like to see the “Bridge to Ridge” plan completed, which would involve developing the area from the old town bridge to the rotary lookout, including Wynyard Street. Over in Adelong an option would be to improve the walk from the Adelong CBD to the Adelong Falls, which has been washed out.
One innovative idea, floated by Local Representative Council Chairman Scott Stevenson, would be to install electric car charging stations in the shire’s towns.
“I think that would be ideal, because then that would hopefully bring a lot of people so that they could travel off the highway. [The stations] would not have a massive cost, but I think it would show a bit of initiative.
“There’s also been talks of a hub at Tumut – a hub linked to a lot of community needs and with video conferencing linked to universities, which is something that’s been done in Cooma. Tumut’s due for a new set of netball courts. I think that certainly, the entrance to the swimming pool needs to be changed. We’re not short of ideas.”
Unlike the recent Stronger Communities Fund, which involved community groups submitting grant applications to Council that were then decided on, this lot of funding does not involve a competitive grant process. Instead the final decision will be made by both local members (Darryl Maguire and Greg Aplin), the Administrator, a probity advisor from auditors Crowe-Horwath, a representative from the Department of Premier and Cabinet and representatives from the Local Representative Committee.