Community fears have been raised about changes to the Parramatta Park Trust Act regarding the lease of the new aquatic centre.
The Parramatta Park Trust Amendment (Western Sydney Stadium) Bill 2007 was introduced in the state parliament last week. It enables land to be swapped between Parramatta Park Trust and Venues NSW for the new Western Sydney Stadium currently under construction. It also enables the lease of trust land for the operation and maintenance of an aquatic centre for a term that “does not exceed 50 years”.
Parramatta Park’s Mays Hill precinct has been earmarked for a new aquatic centre to replace the old pool demolished to make way for the redeveloped stadium.
North Parramatta Residents Action Group fears the Bill’s wording allow a range of “loosely” connected activities on public land. It has called for the Bill to be shelved until Parramatta's newly elected councillors meet and finalise the new pool location and lease.
“The purposes for which this public land could be leased are extremely broad,” group vice president Stephen Brancatisano said. “The amendments do not specifically exclude any type of activity on this precious public land. This is deliberate, and the way it is worded means nothing is off the table. It doesn’t require too much imagination to envisage completely inappropriate development on the Mays Hill precinct being construed as acceptable under the loosely-worded provisions.”
Group president Suzette Meade added: “Parramatta Council and its ratepayers are likely to spend in excess of $30 million to construct a replacement swimming centre, only to face the possibility that the new development will be demolished in the same circumstances as the war memorial swimming centre was this year to make way for the stadium.”
Federal Parramatta MP Julie Owens accused the state government of stealing more green space from the community. “Once again, the NSW government is selling Parramatta to the highest bidder,” she said. “The land swap far exceeds the area needed to replace the Parramatta War Memorial Pool and looks and smells like a public land sell-off. The transfer should be restricted to the size of a new pool. Once again, consultation on this has been pathetic.”
State Parramatta MP Geoff Lee said the fears were unfounded. “We’re 100 per cent behind a world class aquatic centre on the now defunct Parramatta golf course,” he said. “It will activate an area that’s under-utilised. The amendment was another step towards building the new pool. We couldn’t give the council a lease for the aquatic centre under the previous legislation. The quicker it can be done, the quicker people will have a pool.”