OPINION: Marion Baldwin reflects on the demise of Morisset Country Club and the future of the site

MORISSET TIES: Marion Baldwin with her mum, Beryl Mullard. The Mullard family helped to build the golf course in Morisset. Picture: David Stewart
MORISSET TIES: Marion Baldwin with her mum, Beryl Mullard. The Mullard family helped to build the golf course in Morisset. Picture: David Stewart

THE proposed Cedar Mill developments at the former Morisset Country Club site will change the liveability of the Morisset district forever.

The impact on the community of the eviction of the Morisset County Club members and users (about 5000 people) has not been recognised.

The potential Cedar Mill developer, Winarch Capital, has an option to buy the site, and has six development applications before Lake Macquarie City Council.

All the focus has been on the proposed entertainment facility and its capacity for 30,000 people. But there are the other developments to consider as well, the tourist accommodation camping ground, and the lifestyle village. Their plans show a high density of living sites with minimal facilities.

Morisset golf course was a valuable community asset which is now being considered as a building site.

The damage to the flora, fauna and natural environment will be devastating.

My mum, Beryl Mullard, took a photo at our last game of golf together at Morisset. I am pictured among the grove of 19 tallowwood trees that I planted to commemorate my dad, Hope Mullard's, 19 years as president of Morisset Country Club.

The Hope Mullard Grove will probably become part of the collateral damage of the development.

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Many Morisset residents might not be aware of the extent of community and government input that went into the club.

Morisset Psychiatric Hospital manager John Henderson was petitioned by locals to have access to the land on which the Morisset golf course was built. The request for the land was specifically for bowling green facilities and a golf course.

The then-Morisset RSL and Country Club was granted a lease by the NSW Health Department.

The first nine holes of the golf course were built with volunteer community labour.

The first clubhouse was sourced from the Rathmines airforce base.

The second nine holes was constructed with a Commonwealth Government Regional Employment Development Grant and the labour of 12 unemployed men for a year.

Morisset Country Club has had 50 years of voluntary labour contributed by thousands of locals. That's millions of dollars of in-kind support.

These contributions were from locals and government to serve a need in the community, and they should be maintained for the benefit of the community.

Morisset Country Club provided 35 permanent jobs for locals. The golf course, bowling greens and club were open 362 days of the year serving locals and visitors.

This generated income in the millions for both the club and the Morisset area.

All of the proposed Cedar Mill developments could go in other, more suitable, sites in the district.

The Morisset area is a retirement area.

The proposed developments are targeting the young tourist market. This is at the expense of local residents, many of whom have been contributing to, and using the country club facilities, for 50 years.

The land should continue to be used as a golf course because Morisset will never be able to have another golf course.

Council must employ independent consultants to assess the impact the change of land use will have on the social and recreational fabric of the community.

Changing from a golf course, bowling greens and club facilities into the proposed tourist facilities will have a negative impact on us.

Council is so far relying on the developers' reports which haven't yet acknowledged potential impacts in detail.

Professional and unbiased information needs to be commissioned before important and irreversible decisions are made by council.

Morisset Country Club wasn't just a place to play golf, bowls, snooker, dance or attend live bands. It was the heart of the Morisset community.

Our big-hearted country community has had its heart broken.

Next week, Jo Hanlon of Southlake Business Chamber and Community Alliance gives her take on Cedar Mill and Morisset's future.

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