Council backs PCYC project

DEBATE relating to the PCYC proposal boiled at Wednesday night’s council meeting, with four people expressing conflicting views in their address to councillors.

A packed public gallery attended the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council meeting, and were divided in their applause following each speaker’s five-minute spiel.

Two were opposed and two in support of the recommendation to continue commitment to expanding the Port Macquarie Indoor Stadium to incorporate a Police Citizens Youth Club.

Councillors unanimously supported moving the proposal forward, which has attracted $2.5 million state government funding for the facility to be built at the stadium.

Deputy mayor Trevor Sargeant called for rigorous consultation with residents on issues such as safety and local amenity.

Cr Sargeant acknowledged copious correspondence from the community, who put forward arguments for and against the proposal.

He agreed with speaker Breelin Frederick’s point that much of these comments were injected with emotion and lacking evidence.

Mayor Peter Besseling acknowledged there is significant community engagement required before moving to the design stage. 

Stadium manager Clayton Coad supported a PCYC for the Hastings but opposed the project’s location.

He said the stadium already struggled to accommodate numerous sporting groups and an extra service would make co-existence difficult.

Mr Coad suggested the Camden Haven or Wauchope as alternative homes, highlighting the need in those areas for capital injection.

“I think [the proposal] has been rushed through because of the funding restrictions,” he told councillors.

Miss Frederick said misconceptions surrounded the purpose of a PCYC, including harbouring crime.

She said its aim was to reduce crime “by and against youth” and gave young people an outlet for self expression. The 18-year-old urged councillors to make a decision based on facts.

Resident Terry Minahan, who lives near the stadium, raised concerns including proximity to a residential area in relation to noise and anti-social behaviour.

Mr Minahan said he helped gather 200 signatures from residents opposed to the proposal.

Kempsey residents living near the area’s facility told those living near our stadium that a PCYC was the worst thing to have been built near their homes.

Mr Minahan urged councillors to “support the people” by voting against the proposal.

Cr Sargeant said many concerns raised could be addressed through the building design, safe access, appropriate parking allocations and stringent operating procedures.

The funding was applied for by the council last year and approval was announced in May.

Money must be spent in this state government term. The proposed upgrade of the stadium also incorporates a $2.8 million federal government grant through the Community Infrastructure Grants Program.  This funding is only available until June 2014 and will specifically provide for two additional indoor multi-purpose sports courts that will significantly improve the existing infrastructure. 

Council has resolved to undertake comprehensive community engagement before March next year based on the concept plan that was tabled at the council meeting and further consider the feedback before moving to detailed design phase.

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