A solution in search of a problem

Council made a decision on August 28, 2013 to proceed with seeking tenders for a major resort development at Hanging Rock.

However, despite many requests for information and clarity and the publication of Information Bulletins, at this stage, there is still no clearly defined objective for the project.

The project as approved is forecast to generate $300,000 per annum net surplus for Hanging Rock. But what is the money needed for? Where in any council publicly released document is there a defined need for specific capital works or additional ongoing works.

The much-quoted, but unreleased, AECOM Hanging Rock Investment and Development Plan, seems to be completely oriented towards justifying the building of the resort and spending $8.5 million of taxpayers' money to encourage a developer to commit to the project.

After two years' work at a cost of over $100,000 nothing released from this report specifies the needs of Hanging Rock.

When asked how it was decided that $300,000 per annum was needed for Hanging Rock there is no answer apart from vague generalisations about infrastructure upgrades and conservation improvements. 

If council is doing its job as the committee of management then surely it should have an ongoing plan outlining the needs.

When council purchased the East Paddock in 1992, a maintenance and development plan was produced by Loder & Bayley. Reviews of progress against this council-endorsed plan occurred in 2008 and 2011 which identified modest expenditure increases and a review of upgrading a multipurpose venue near the racecourse.

What has happened since 2011? We don't know because nothing has been published.

Nowhere did the 1992 plan or subsequent reviews ask for multimillion dollar upgrades of infrastructure or major maintenance upgrades.

A project should not be approved unless it has a clearly defined action plan to satisfy a clearly defined need.

A defined objective seems to be missing.

If council is serious about proactively managing and upgrading facilities at Hanging Rock it should publish a list of proposed projects and their indicative costs so we clearly understand what needs to be funded.