MELVILLE Mayor Russell Aubrey has used his casting vote to block an electors motion aimed at halting work at Tompkins Park.
Melville councillors spent a touch under an hour debating whether to cease preparations for changes at the picturesque site, which will include a new $9.4 million base for multiple sporting clubs and, approvals pending, a $25 million privately-run wave park.
A recommendation overwhelmingly supported by residents in April called on the City to stop any financial outlay until the outcome of Supreme Court action into the wave park and the ongoing inquiry into the City had concluded.
But support instead was given to Melville’s governance and compliance advisor Jeff Clark, who recommended simply – if not frustratingly for ratepayers – for the council to note the intent of the motion.
With central ward councillor Duncan Macphail absent from the meeting, the vote was tied at 6-6.
Mr Aubrey used his casting vote to resolve the deadlock, allowing preliminary planning work to progress.
Mr Clark’s report, while short, drummed up plenty of debate after councillor Katy Mair moved to put the ratepayer-backed motion back on the table.
Acting Melville chief executive Marten Tieleman was concerned halting work could mean the City would be unable to meet the conditions of its lease agreement with the Wave Park Group (WPG).
“My concern with this motion is it may open a chequebook for the (WPG),” he said.
But Cr Mair argued the conditional lease was negotiable.
“Since there’s a challenge on the validity of the (wave park) lease, we should wait for the outcome before committing any more finances to Tomkins Park redevelopment,” Cr Mair said.
Cr June Barton said she had been concerned from the start, highlighting recent news the Melville Bowling Club was not keen on moving to a new facility without knowing what benefits they would get from a relocation.
“(The City appears) to be doing our own thing again, doing what we want and what we think the community wants,” she said.
“We have heard from residents over the last couple of years with electors meetings, raising their concerns.
“I think we should start taking that very seriously.”
Cr Patricia Phelan said the City had worked with sporting clubs toward a hub at Tompkins Park for at least seven years, with opposition spiking during the latter stages.
“We don’t have an infinite supply of ratepayers,” she said.
“We need to have a plan that will take our costs into the future as well as taking care of the people we have now.”