The Narrandera Shire Council adopted a motion at last week’s meeting to open community consultation over where the proposed Marie Bashir Park community stage should be built.
While the stage was initially proposed in 2010, and the budget and location was approved at Council’s meeting on March 21 this year, a motion was moved by Councillor Tracey Lewis to re-open the process, as community concerns had been raised about the location of the stage.
“I’d just like to see more community involvement in where the stage is being built,” Cr Lewis said at last Tuesday’s meeting.
While the motion was carried, it wasn’t without its detractors.
“I believe we’ve had a lot of community consultation already,” Cr Barbara Bryon said.
Cr Jenny Clarke offered a compromise. “Perhaps we should have a transportable stage. It would cost about $20 to $30 thousand to build, but it would also mean that we could move it to the main street during the John O’Brien Festival.”
The current master plan for Marie Bashir Park puts the proposed location for the stage on the corner of Twynam and Adams Streets. It was argued that the area of the park was both under-utilised and would be quiet enough for performances.
However, the stage location quickly drew the ire of both Cr Lewis and members of the community. During the Council meeting in March, Cr Lewis pushed for the stage to be located on the Newell Highway side of the park.
She stated that the stage should be closer to the park’s other facilities, such as the public restrooms and the playground in order to make life easier for people with children and people with disabilities. Despite Cr Narelle Payne making the point that as a person living with a disability she didn’t find the distance to be a disadvantage, Cr Lewis persisted.
Cr Lewis also maintained that putting the stage beside the highway might encourage ‘drop in’ viewers from traffic passing through during performances.
“I don’t believe that hiding the stage away in a desolate little corner of the park is the best thing for the town. Who’s going to be able to get to it?” Cr Lewis said in March.
Putting the stage beside the highway does create the problem of noise pollution. Given the quantity of heavy vehicle traffic that passes by on the Newell, there is not only a safety risk but loud traffic could distract and interrupt performers, deterring people from using the stage altogether.
As the motion passed, Council will now arrange a site meeting with community stakeholders to determine the most suitable location for the stage.
The updated Master Plan will be placed on public exhibition for 28 days, allowing for community feedback, and a report will be submitted to Council detailing any community submissions after the public exhibition.