Recently I was invited to attend a meeting between interested community groups and Orange City Council regarding the proposed new sporting development next to the hospital.
As a strong believer in the need for increased community sporting fields, I agreed to attend with interest.
What I learnt however was as astonishing as it was disturbing.
There were significant issues raised with council by both the environmental and medical communities, which convinced me that putting a sporting complex next to the hospital is madness.
Over the last 50 years Orange has become a shining light for regional medical services.
Both the local and extended community now benefit from the extraordinary range and quality of health services available at the Bloomfield complex.
Part of this success story is not only due to the dedication and quality of the staff but also the unique facilities purposefully developed as an "integrated medical complex".
On the extended site, the community now has access to a state of the art public hospital, a private hospital, psychiatric hospital, cancer services and accommodation, aged care and two medical schools.
The medical community are rightly concerned that slowing down or impeding ambulance and medical access will significantly jeopardise patient care ...Stephen Porges
The only downside of this complex, as anyone who travels there will attest, is the traffic bottleneck.
This is significantly worsened whenever there is any increase in traffic flow to either the mine, the hospital or the current sporting facilities at Jack Brabham.
To further exacerbate this traffic issue by adding significantly more cars to the area with the proposed sporting development will, without doubt, create further traffic delays and stoppages.
The medical community are rightly concerned that slowing down or impeding ambulance and medical access will significantly jeopardise patient care.
Meanwhile, on the environmental front, Orange as the `Colour City' is more than living up to its name.
With its natural beauty and defined seasons, Orange is being recognised as a place not just for visiting but as a place for tree changers looking for the unique quality of life we all experience locally.
The Conservatorium, the Botanic Gardens, the wineries, the restaurants, the galleries and the spectacular parklands are part of this narrative.
On the extended Bloomfield site with the green belt extending through to Gosling Creek we have the opportunity to create an extraordinary reserve; one that will rival Centennial Park in Sydney and Canberra's Arboretum for beauty and significance.
With care, expertise and wisdom, this could be a site that in 100 years people will look back on and laud the vision of the town to maintain and develop such a resource.
Council's current concern around this reserve is `who will mow the grass?'.
Surely we can think slightly bigger picture than this and recognise the unique potential of this site!
The disturbing and astonishing thing is that both these groups presented absolutely compelling cases on why the sporting development should not be next to the hospital and the unique parklands maintained.
Neither group oppose the development at the alternative, more sensible sites , yet council, or more specifically the mayor, refused to countenance any discussion!
Council is determined to go ahead with a vote for initial Development Approval for the Bloomfield site and commence clearing the site before council elections in September.
What was the point of the meeting in the first place, if not to consult, if not to listen?
Why rush this through when so much is at stake?
If the mayor and council believe in their case, let them take it to the elections, and let those who oppose it, make their own case.
Isn't this basic democracy?
Surely with simple planning and a complete analysis of all options available for a sporting complex, using land council already owns, we can develop a fantastic new sporting complex elsewhere and retain a world class parkland.
The only way we can stop this insanity is to ensure our voices are heard, now.
Council elections are only four months away.
I urge citizens of Orange to speak up.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
HAVE YOUR SAY
- Send us a letter to the editor using the form below