Fourteen years ago it was better known as the site of a secondary emergency water pipeline for Goulburn.
Now, a world of possibilities is opening to transform Copford Reach on the Wollondilly River into a community recreational spot.
Councillors decided at their most recent meeting to invite expressions of interest in a working party to explore opportunities to upgrade the reserve and waterway. It will aim to cater for a variety of community organisations and the general population.
"If you spoke with some of our older residents around town I'm sure many have great memories of swimming at Copford Reach in their younger days," Mayor Bob Kirk said.
"We are looking to restore the reserve and the waterway to its former glory, and really looking for some innovative ideas that we can potentially put some budget towards in coming years. It will eventually link nicely with our river walkway network, and could be a brilliant spot for the community to enjoy."
Deputy Mayor Peter Walker and Cr Andrew Banfield will be the council representatives. It will also include council general manager Warwick Bennett or his representative, two community members selected from an expression of interest process and a delegate from Goulburn Barefoot Waterski Club.
The move came after the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment advised in January that the land and waterway at Copford Reach was not in fact Crown land, as thought.
It followed a detailed investigation after Goulburn Barefoot Waterski proposed to use the area for organised competition but also to clean up the surrounding riverbank and install amenities and picnic facilities.
"We were stunned," Mr Bennett said.
"We always thought it was Crown land and so we initially told the Barefoot Waterski Club to follow the Department's process."
The GM described it as an exciting opportunity that also opened the option of extending a walkway that currently runs between the rear of Saint Joseph's Gate subdivision on Taralga Road to 'the Boathouse' behind Kenmore Hospital.
Cr Kirk said the working party could also encompass that of another focused on tidying up the river.
Meantime, Barefoot Waterski Club committee member Sam Bell said it had taken almost a year to establish the land's status. The council last considered the Club's proposal in April, 2019.
"Crown Lands controls a section above and below the river around Copford Reach but not this part," he said.
"From a club perspective we're very enthusiastic about getting down there and this is a step towards it. It's a lovely spot and it will be nice to tidy it up and open it up for everyone."
One of the priorities is to clear weeds leading up to The Boathouse.
The Club also wants to open the section of river for local, regional and possibly state barefoot waterski competitions. They've described it as a growing sport that could inject tourism revenue into Goulburn. Currently, members can use Copford Reach individually but not on an organised basis.
The plan underwent public consultation and a trial last year. Several community members objected on the basis of noise, environmental impacts, disturbance to platypi and riverbank erosion. Council staff also recommended against it for these reasons and its location near the wastewater treatment plant.
Nevertheless, councillors, led by Cr Kirk, granted in-principle agreement in April, 2019, pending clarification over the land and waterway's status and on condition the Club sourced money for upgrades.
Mr Bell said coronavirus had put much of the work on hold but members would now help source grants.
The council has not allocated any funds at this stage but Mr Bennett said this could be considered in the budget once working party recommendations were received.
Its final report must be lodged before February, 28, 2020.
Expressions of interest for two community representatives are invited up until 5pm Friday, October 3.
These should be made in writing and should outline, in no more than one page, the attributes and qualifications you could bring to the working party.
They can be emailed to email@example.com, or addressed to the general manager, Locked Bag 22, Goulburn, NSW, 2580.
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