The council is predicting a Goulburn to Crookwell rail trail will attract double the expected number of users and prove a tourism bonanza for both communities.
That forecast is partly underpinning a $5 million application to the state's Regional Tourism Activation Fund. Councillors agreed to the joint bid with Upper Lachlan Shire Council at their most recent meeting.
The application complements another for $7m to the federal government's Building Better Regions fund, due to be announced towards the end of this year. This was also lodged with Upper Lachlan Council.
The rail trail is estimated to cost $14.2m. Councillors also agreed to pursue the $2.2m shortfall with the state government and other grant programs on the basis the state would own the trail once complete.
General manager Warwick Bennett said the venture ticked all the Regional Activation Fund's criteria. It's designed to invest in initiatives that "create unique and high impact experiences for people visiting regional NSW," create jobs and boost the local economy.
"We forecast 35,000 to 40,000 visitors annually but based on other rail trails, we think it could attract double that number. It will be a fantastic asset for NSW," Mr Bennett said.
Mayor Bob Kirk agreed, saying the Tumbarumba to Rosewood rail trail was approved based on 10,000 annual visitors but had in fact drawn 23,000 users.
"That's with COVID restrictions in place so it's a remarkable operating position," he said.
A 2014 feasibility study estimated up to a $3.45m total economic injection into the Goulburn and Crookwell regional economy based on 30,000 patrons annually.
Cr Kirk said the state didn't require Goulburn Mulwaree and Upper Lachlan councils to develop the concept any further.
"We are poised to jump and take advantage of any spoils that come our way," he said.
"We remain hopeful. We've also had good support from (Goulburn MP) Wendy Tuckerman and (Hume MP) Angus Taylor."
The initiative aims to install a shared pedestrian/cyclist pathway on the 56km crown land route, officially closed since 1989. It is now listed as non-operational but an act of parliament is required to close the line.
Mr Bennett said he'd been talking "ad nauseum" to the state government about this.
"All the feedback from government is positive in terms of support for the rail trail and I'm confident the closure will happen," he said.
But not everyone is a fan. AUSVEG previously raised biosecurity concerns about the rail trail on behalf of Crookwell's seed potato growing industry. Grower Kim Weir also told The Post that if not managed properly, it could mean the end of the industry in that area.
Other landholders such as former stockbroker and merchant banker, Maurice Newman, and Roslyn graziers Katrina and Andrew Nixon have also voiced their opposition, based on biosecurity and possible weed spread.
But Cr Kirk said a biosecurity risk assessment and management plan had been developed, based on that developed for the Tumbarumba to Rosewood line, and modified.
"We've had it peer reviewed and that will go to our meeting this month after which it will be placed on public exhibition," he said.
"We realise biosecurity is a big issue and that's why we've had people look at it."
The mayor said broad consultation with the majority of landholders had occurred but about 40 were yet to be engaged. He understood these people could feel "left out of the process" but talks on a "paddock by paddock" basis would occur during detailed design, if the government gave the go ahead.
Mr Bennett told The Post that good signage, fencing on both sides of the line that still maintained stock access was essential.
Meantime, the council will also apply for $450,000 under the Regional Activation Fund's stream two for a jetty, pontoon and disability walkway at the Goulburn Waterworks museum. The stream is aimed at improving disability access at "high impact tourism venues."
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Deputy Mayor questioned whether a similar proposal for Roberts Park near the PCYC, recommended by a working party, had been dropped. He did not disagree with the Waterworks bid but pointed out that the main gates at Marsden Weir were often locked during the week, preventing public access.
Corporate services director Brendan Hollands replied that the funding guidelines required "high impact" tourism destinations and Roberts Park would not meet this definition.
The fund requires that projects be completed by June, 2023. Successful recipients will be notified by about November.
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