The public outcry over Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's handling of a number of key projects and its community consultation processes appear to be taking its toll.
The council has taken the unusual step of tackling what they say is a "circulation of misinformation" about another key project, the construction of a new aquatic facility.
Council issued a media statement on June 25 throwing water on the flames of hot community debate about how this project, and others including the orbital road, has been handled to date.
The finalisation of designs for a new aquatic centre in Port Macquarie is funded in council's 2019/20 Operational Plan, with the site selection and design expected to be complete by the end of June 2020.
Yet a much-awaited draft report from independent assessor Otium Planning Group has not been released.
General manager, Craig Swift-McNair, said disquiet about the lack of community consultation on the project is misinformed.
"I want our community to be absolutely clear that the claim we will not be consulting on site options for the Port Macquarie Aquatic Facility is absolutely false," Mr Swift-McNair said.
"The aquatic facility project is a major infrastructure project spanning a number of years, and critical to its successful delivery is a multi-stage engagement process.
"Community input is absolutely necessary to ensure we develop a facility that meets our community's need and can serve our community for many decades to come.
"I appreciate it can seem to the community that these projects take a very long time....and they do," Mr Swift-McNair explained.
A spokesperson for Port Macquarie-Hastings Council said the Otium report will be presented to councillors at a briefing this week with councillors expected to review a full report on the future of the aquatic facility at the July council meeting. Recommendations of how to go forward including site selection, a master plan and community engagement are likely to be discussed at the July meeting.
Organiser of the Port Macquarie Aquatic Centre community action group Greg Freeman said while the community consultation had been "adequate" he bemoaned the "slowness of the process".
"Last year we were offered a glimmer of hope with the Otium report," Mr Freeman said.
"That was supposed to be delivered to council and we were promised a draft copy of the report earlier this year which hasn't come through yet.
"We are frustrated that the Otium report has not been released which I understand has site selection as part of their brief."
Mr Freeman said the issue has dragged on for too long.
"Twenty years ago serious structural problems were identified with the pool yet this process has just dragged on and on and on."
Other community groups have been less tactful.
Organiser of the Save Fernhill Community Action Group Grant Mitchell was scathing over the council's handling of an orbital road for Port Macquarie.
He described information provided by council during the consultation period to residents of Fernhill as "often misleading, incomplete and/or inaccurate".
He remains less than impressed with how councillors acted during the June 19 council meeting. Hundreds of people in the packed gallery left the meeting disillusioned the council, despite months of community consultation and more than 17,000 submission on the issue, had not listened.
"There was overwhelming public condemnation of the orbital road project's proposed 'most viable route' however this route is still on the table," Mr Mitchell said.
"We really have had to fight for every bit of relevant information.
"It really feels like we have been drip-fed information, but only when we have probed and questioned things that haven't added up.
"This isn't the way it should work for any project, big or small, but especially when it involves the prospect of families losing their homes."
Revive the Lake Cathie president Danielle Maltman concurs.
"There has been no community consultation in response to Revive Lake Cathie's submission," she said.
Revive Lake Cathie has held two volunteer meetings and one community meeting where all councillors were invited. Only mayor Peta Pinson and two council staff attended these meetings.
Celia Kershaw who has been leading the opposition to the lease or sale of the crematorium and lawn cemetery is concerned it is a "foregone conclusion" due to the lack of consultation on the issue so far. It seems council may have heard these concerns announcing at 3pm on June 25 it will now go back to the community on this issue.
Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann was circumspect about the criticism.
"Council undertakes extensive community consultation but we can't reach every single person and it rarely satisfies all parties," Cr Intemann said.
"Council is very open and transparent.
"Coming from the inside of the organisation and how much effort is put into consultation, it may be a perception of some, but not the majority."