THE old hospital site could become Orange’s newest green space to rival Cook Park and Robertson Park, if councillor Kevin Duffy has his way.
Orange City Council has been in negotiations with Health Infrastructure (HI) - the state government agency in charge of the site - since last May exploring options to purchase the land or enter into a partnership for its redevelopment.
It is understand the old hospital site has been identified as a priority one project for council in the lead-up to its May budget.
Mayor John Davis supports council’s involvement in the redevelopment of the site, but councillor Chris Gryllis is one councillor who has voiced concerns about the venture being too risky.
Cr Duffy also has concerns, and said council should not be involved in redeveloping the site for high-rise apartments resembling “Lego or Meccano”.
He wants the site transformed into a park with the former ambulance station building on Anson Street retained for a cafe or restaurant.
“Our projected population is going to be 75,000 people over the next 25 years,” he said.
“There is never going to be another opportunity for open space parkland in the CBD (central business district) area.
“You have the TAFE there, small business, and I can’t think of anything better for local business operators than to be able to sit in the park.”
Cr Duffy said he will call on the state government, with support from member for Orange Andrew Gee, to assess the site and give council an opportunity to buy the land and transform it into a park.
He said council’s predecessors had the foresight to establish Cook Park and Robertson Park and the current crop of councillors should follow suit for the special site.
“About 40,000 people of Orange and the district were born there, which is a joyful thing, but it’s also where 40,000 to 50,000 people would have moved on,” he said.
“It’s their land, not the state government’s land ... a lot of my ancestors were born and died there ... it would be very sad to not let the people of Orange have it.
“Council would be silly if they didn’t budget for it now.”
He would not speculate on the price of the land or the cost of creating a park, but admitted demolition could be expensive.