A barefoot water skiing proposal for a Wollondilly River stretch has stayed afloat, with in-principle endorsement from councillors.
The Goulburn Barefoot Water Skiing Club has thrice tried to convince the council to support its proposal to use Copford Reach for local, regional and state events. Vice- president Sam Bell first addressed councillors last November. In December, staff recommended against the idea, citing noise near a residential area, bank erosion from wave action and the fact the zone was downstream of the wastewater treatment plant.
But councillors deferred a decision, pending further information. In February, they allowed a trial and endorsed a 28-day public consultation on the proposal, the results of which were reported to Tuesday night's meeting.
Staff again recommended refusal based on noise, environmental impact, amenities for larger events, management of other activities on the river, such as fishing, and its location near the treatment plant.
However Mayor Bob Kirk convinced most of his colleagues to allow the club to lease council land to access the boat ramp and river reserve. This is needed for the club's application to use the Crown land. But it's just a first step; Water NSW, the Department of Primary Industries, Roads and Maritime Service and other agencies must then sign off on the plan.
"We're pleased (with the decision) but there's a long way to go. We're one step closer," Mr Bell said after the meeting.
He addressed the council during open forum, saying there were no noise complaints during the trial period and the club was keen to work with other river users "for everyone's benefit."
The proposal was notified to 43 people and eight submissions were returned. Four were in support and four against. Objectors raised concerns about noise, environmental effects and disturbance to platypi from pollution and bank erosion. One person feared the "critically endangered" silver perch, unique to the area, would compromise spawning.
But Cr Kirk argued power boats and skiers already used Copford Reach and there had been no noise complaints during the trial. In addition, he had no problem with it being downstream of the wastewater treatment plant.
"There's more noise from the trains running nearby," he said after the meeting.
"All we are doing is allowing an organised activity at a specific time. It's a beautiful section of river and it's crying out for improvement."
He won support from Cr Andrew Banfield, who questioned whether the council would work with the club on infrastructure upgrades in the area.
As part of the council's in-principle agreement, the boat ramp, toilet and parking facilities, track access and public viewing areas will have to be upgraded.
Cr Kirk said the cost of this work, funding and timeframes still had to be negotiated.
"Like any other public recreation area, the council has a role to play but the club has made certain undertakings to improve the area," he said.
The club hopes to source grant funding.
President Scott Butz said the Roads and Maritime Service had earlier offered to help secure grants to upgrade the access.
"All of it is achievable. We need to do it to host tournaments anyway," he said
Hours of usage will be negotiated to minimise the impact on adjoining landowners.
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