LAKE MACQUARIE council is poised to become manager of Morisset Showground after councillors supported assuming the responsibility from Crown Lands at a standing committee meeting on Monday night.
The NSW Department of Industry agency had requested council become manager of the 12.8-hectare reserve following the dissolution of a community-based trust previously responsible for the site.
The showground is the largest open space area in the Morisset Developer Contributions Catchment and adjoins a largely unused 7.45 hectares of community land, also zoned for public recreation.
The catchment has a significant deficiency of similar sized park land, which was one of the main reasons why council staff recommended accepting the appointment subject to various conditions.
“The site provides a very good opportunity to develop additional parkland space and active recreation facilities to meet the open space needs of this growing catchment,” council staff said.
“Considering the significance and the multiple uses of the site, it is recommended the preparation of a master plan be undertaken to guide the development of the site.”
Assuming the land manager role would cost the council about $150,000 in 2018/19 due to expected site expenditure increases.
Revenue sources include short-term camping income of $180,000 per annum, and annual event and venue-hire income of $43,000.
“There are costs associated in managing the showground, however the long term benefit of the land asset outweighs the costs associated with replacing the infrastructure on the land,” council staff said.
Revenue could be increased with additional events and marketing, and potential review of site fees and charges, staff said.
Councillors unanimously supported the proposal with conditions to be negotiated with Crown Lands.
Councillor Barney Langford told the meeting: “If not council than who?”.
Councillor David Belcher said it was "fantastic to see council taking on an asset like this".
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what council can do,” he said.