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File pic: (l-r rear) Clarence Valley Council’s general manager Ashley Lindsay, the Calypso’s managers, Adrian and Casey Easdown, and Yamba Chamber of Commerce’s treasurer, Rick Angelo, (l-r front), the chamber’s secretary, Bev Mansfield, and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis are pictured at the grant announcement in June 2018. Image: Geoff Helisma

Calypso redevelopment under pressure

Geoff Helisma As time ticks by, Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) proposed redevelopment of Calypso Holiday Park in Yamba can move no further until native title negotiations are completed. Meanwhile, time is running out to meet the completion date, August 2022 (a NSW Government grant condition), and the estimated cost for the project has almost doubled since it was unanimously supported at the November 2016 CVC meeting – from $8.75million to $15.5million. Negotiations are currently taking place to establish an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) under the Native Title Act. Councillors discussed the negotiations in a confidential session at the December CVC meeting. The outcome of the discussion is confidential in accordance with Clause 10A 2 (g) of the NSW Local Government Act, because the discussion included “advice concerning litigation, or advice that would otherwise be privileged from production in legal proceedings on the ground of legal professional privilege”. Nevertheless, councillors unanimously supported inviting a shortlist of applicants derived from expressions of interest (EOI) in the project “to submit tenders as and when required”. At the December meeting, general manager Ashley Lindsay advised councillors that the objective at this stage of the project was to “just get a panel of contractors in place … to be considered further down the track”. According to the “most recent Quantity Survey (QS) for the park … an expenditure of $15.5million is required to fully redevelop the park”, staff wrote in the report to council. “The shortfall in funding would be met principally through loan borrowings, part [of the] accrued revenue over the next 20 months, [and] a further park refurbishment grant for the central village green, or [the] scope [of the project] may have to be reduced with Restart NSW approval,” staff wrote. Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis took credit for securing a $6,720,000 grant in June of 2018. “This is fully funded in last week’s State Budget and the money comes from the Regional Growth Environment and Tourism Fund, secured by the Nationals in government,” Mr Gulaptis said at the time. Clarence Valley Council, as the Crown reserve manager, has allocated $2million towards the park’s redevelopment from the Council Crown Reserves (formally the Clarence Coast Reserve Trust). Staff advised councillors that “negotiations around the extinguishment of native title have been ongoing between the Yaegl TOAC [Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation] and NTS Corp (Yaegl legal representatives)”. “The negotiations are at a preliminary stage only and may affect the project’s forecasted expenditure,” staff wrote. “It is anticipated that there may be a position to close out negotiations by March 2021, at which stage, or earlier, the final budget will be reported to Council for consideration. “It is expected that should native title negotiations be concluded in March 2021 there would be a pathway to deliver the project to comply with the timetable of the Restart NSW Grant. “The project will be reported by or to the March Ordinary Council meeting for consideration of project budget and implications of native title negotiations.” Short lists of contractors eligible to tender for the project were prepared for the various components of the project: cabins, civil and services, demolition and removal of fuel tanks. However, only one EOI was lodged to construct the “resort-style pool”, mooted as one of the significant improvements to the park. Councillors agreed with staff’s recommendation, to reject the EOI to construct the pool and instead “re-evaluate the procurement strategy to ensure Council achieves value for money for the contract”. Clarence Valley Council’s “project management team is proposing to run the project as the head contractor and subcontract the works in smaller packages to gain the best value for money for the project,” the report to the December CVC meeting stated.