The mystery of the rail trail yellow bikes gone missing from the front of the Tumut Riverglade Caravan Park, as raised by a letter the Tumut and Adelong Times, has been solved, rail trail advocates having moved the brightly painted cycles themselves.
Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail Project chairperson Phil Barton said the council had apparently received a complaint about the bikes, which were apparently in contravention to public space legislation.
“We were asked to relocate the cycles over the fence to inside the Riverglade boundary,” Mr Barton said.
“Once duly positioned, we were then again instructed to vacate the cycles altogether, as being on council land it “implied” the council was in support of the Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail.
“To further understand Council’s position, in July 2018 councillors opted to take an “impartial position” in regard to the Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail Project.
With council taking that position leading up to the adoption of the Snowy Valleys Destination Plan, it averted a major confrontation.
“Had the council not included the Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail Project in the Snowy Valleys Destination Plan, they were fully aware we would continue the fight to have it included.
“The council’s policy of impartiality is supported by our committee, but we are not convinced some are.”
Mr Barton, who has been a key driver of a rail trail from Batlow to Tumut, argued there’d been a concerted effort by some within the community to disrupt the completion of a feasibility study into the Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail.
He said he can’t understand the logic behind the opposition, given the study is privately funded.
“Not one cent of council funds will be used to produce a shovel ready Rail Trail Project.
“It will be fully costed and will in time be eligible to receive NSW government grants covering the full cost of construction.
“Be assured the Tumut-Batlow Rail Trail Project is on target, we are not offended by council’s action, we believe it is fair and just, and we will ensure future placements will not be on “public spaces” or on council owned/managed land.”
To that end, Mr Barton said he’s seeking interested landholders with fence lines fronting main road entrances to town to contact him if they are happy to display the rail trail street art.
“We will maintain the bicycles, fence and surrounds in pristine condition,” Mr Barton said.
The Batlow to Tumut rail trail is vehemently opposed by Gilmore landholders, who believe the cycling track will create biosecurity and privacy concern for landholders.
The project has twice been considered by the former Tumut Shire Council, and twice been rejected.
Snowy Valleys Council issued the following statement on the most recent events.
“Council has adopted a position of impartiality with regards the community debate around a proposed Tumut to Batlow Rail Trail,” a spokesperson said.
“In keeping with that position the council has requested that no bikes (regardless of colour) be displayed on council land, such as caravan parks and recreation reserves.
“Council officers contacted lessees of council land, where bikes had been displayed, to explain the situation and provided a reasonable amount of time for the bikes to be removed.
“Mr Phil Barton was also contacted directly by officers in an effort to clarify Council’s position.”