Waterland’s cash dries up

MAYLANDS Waterland may become little more than a splash unless Bayswater council can find $3.2 million within four months.

Although the council in June last year committed to spending that much upgrading the waterpark, at last week’s council budget meeting, staff instead proposed  putting $1.5 million towards a regional playground that “could include water play elements”.

After some opposition to the proposal, mayor Dan Bull moved an amendment that would give staff four months to seek state, federal or private grant funding before the refurb is officially off.

“The truth is we simply couldn’t afford a $3.2 million upgrade to Maylands Waterland,” Cr Bull says.

“It would mean increasing rates by at least seven per cent. I could not in good conscience agree to that sort of increase.

Hollow

If the outside funding isn’t found the council will turn Waterland into a “destinational playground” using $1.5 million cash-in-lieu funds set aside for public open space.

Cr Bull says the cash-in-lieu can’t be used on Waterland as it is, because under the rules the money can only be spent on a facility that’s free and open to the public all year round.

Councillors Elli Petersen-Pik, Filomena Piffaretti and Catherine Ehrhardt voted against the compromise, the latter describing it as a hollow promise.

“I feel four months is not enough time to find a grant, apply for it and wait and see if we get given it,” Cr Ehrhardt told Perth Voice.

She says there’s only $820,000 in the cash-in-lieu reserve anyway, and once the cost of filling in the pools is taken into account, Waterland is likely to end up like Bardon Park – a niceish enough playground, but nothing special.

• Councillor Catherine Ehrhardt is unhappy that Maylands Waterland may lose its splash. Photo by Steve Grant

Cr Ehrhardt is also unhappy that $200,000 set aside for designing the Waterland upgrade never got spent, despite the council reaffirming its desire to proceed as recently as December last year.

During the debate Cr Peterson-Pik moved a foreshadowed motion that the city split the $3 million construction costs over two years, but that failed to get support.

“In essence, I proposed to defer the money that was supposed to be allocated for the Maylands Waterland redevelopment project by one year, allowing the city to focus on progressing the design for the new site, for which money was already set aside in the budget,” he says.

Cr Bull says the city could apply to Lotterywest for funding for a regional playground.

“Currently Maylands Waterland is open for only five months of the year, it is a user pays facility and runs at a loss of around $200,000 a year,” he said.

Cr Ehrhardt says she thought a loan or a private operator could help keep Maylands Waterland alive, but was told by admin the refurbishment funds must come from grant money.

“It’s narrow thinking and not thinking outside of the box for what’s best for our residents.”

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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