ORANGE City Council should avoid risking ratepayers’ money in a partnership to redevelop the former Orange Base Hospital site and put the onus back on the state government to overhaul the site, according to councillor Chris Gryllis.
Last week, Orange mayor John Davis said the future of the hospital site could be revealed in the first quarter of 2014 and reiterated his support of the council being involved in the redevelopment.
But Cr Gryllis said he was one of several councillors who did not believe the council should be involved.
“We should leave it to developers to develop, they have proven they can do good projects,” he said.
“At this stage we have enough on our plate to complete the airport [expansion] and [Macquarie] pipeline.”
Cr Gryllis said general manager Garry Styles had kept councillors informed of negotiations for the hospital site, but the final decision would be up to all councillors, not the mayor or general manager.
“Council should be very forceful to the local member [Andrew Gee] to indicate to the state government we want action,” he said.
“It’s their problem ... my gut feeling is we should stay away from developments that risk ratepayers’ money.”
The Orange Ratepayers Association also opposes the council’s involvement with the old hospital site.
Treasurer John Da Rin said the council should concentrate on its core responsibilities such as road maintenance before embarking on new projects.
Cr Gryllis said there were a number of other neglected buildings in Orange, but it was the state government’s responsibility to redevelop the site.
“We should tell [the state government] if they want to demolish it, give us the open space we’d welcome it,” he said.
Cr Gryllis said he agreed with most of Cr Davis’ “wish list” for 2014, but believed the council should upgrade existing sporting grounds such as Wade Park before embarking on a rectangular field complex.
The planetarium is another project he believes should be a priority for the council, in conjunction with the Orange Regional Museum.