As we enter winter it was great to receive around 50mm of rain over the catchment.
Some important outcomes from the Council meeting this week included the release of a very comprehensive budget with a number of capital works programs.
Those works included a recommendation to start the $20 million conservatorium/planetarium, of which we have $10 million of funds locked in via Federal grants and and estimated $5 million from the re-use/sale of the current site - so let's do it!
A 44 hectare parkland on the Northern Distributor Road - basically, a native arboretum - is another project. The site has natural creek flowing through the middle of it and the aspect is flat to undulating to the east, with future views of Suma Park Dam.
The site has hundreds of healthy native trees with a wonderful view back to Mount Canobolas. It is an endangered ecological block capable of creating a wonderful repository of native trees, shrubs and grasses endemic to our region.
This would be an extensive, open parkland where the community could undertake a range of activities, including picnicking, walking, running or being involved in one of the various volunteer groups in planting and maintenance.
As well as having a wide range of other uses; think weddings, special family occasions, farmers markets and numerous passive and active sports or leisure activities.
We are already looking at a number of government grants that we could access to develop a 'must see and visit' native parkland that is also a carbon bank, and offset area for some other developments. It'd also be another 44 hectares to add to Orange's already impressive abundance of greenspace, which sits at 17 hectares per 1000 head of population, or about three times what is regarded as an Australian standard. Note this does not include the city's golf courses, Towac Park or Lake Canobolas.
It must be pointed out that the hospital site and Bloomfield area has more greenspace and parklands surrounding the buildings out there than other areas of the city - Gosling Creek Reserve, Bloomfield Park, the Southern side of the Bloomfield grounds, which were once a wasteland of weeds and rubbish until work conducted over the last few years by council and volunteers cleaned it up. Then you have on the western side, which includes the research station and its hundred-or-so hectares that links up with the springs heritage site and walking trail. Then we have TAFE, that reclaimed the old Bloomfield piggery, Orange dump and night soil paddock that has been transformed it into over 100 hectares of educational facilities for horticulture, conservation farming and a host of environmental courses. Then to the north you have Brabham sports grounds and Ex-Services golf club that was established in the 1980s on what was called 'the horse paddock', a low level ground that had little on it except grass and rubbish.
Therefore it will be in the majority of the community's best interest to develop a substantive greenspace area to the east of Orange, as the southern side of the city abounds with parklands and greenspace around the hospital.
It's still important we get the government to maintain the integrity of the historic Bloomfield grounds and building, this could be a economic boom to Orange as a 'health precinct'.
So much land exists within Bloomfield hospital and there's so many brick, double story buildings (some unused and going backwards) littered throughout the extensive land to the south and east of the present hospital precinct and around established centres like Cancer Care West Lodge, the Ronald MacDonald House, University Sydney and University of Newcastle.
I am sure many people do not know the extent of the present Bloomfield Hospital grounds nor the surrounding parks, reserves and greenspace.
Council is in the process of approaching reputable horticulturists and conservationists like it did for the Botanic Gardens and concept management plans, a business case and other necessary instruments will be followed up very soon.
We are blessed with so much in the south, west and north, this arboretum or parkland will be ideal for the north of Orange as well.
The budget went through Council last Tuesday and there's a number of major capital works projects and a substantial ongoing commitment to roads and footpaths, which I certainly pushed for many a year.
One highlight will be this Council going ahead with with much-needed conservatorium/planetarium project.
We have $10,000 from the Federal Government, and the sale of the site should yield $5 million, so we will be looking at another $4 million to $5 million, but I am sure all agree it is needed now, and it is the ideal time to do it whilst work is happening on the art gallery extension.
Some much needed support and grants are going towards Spring Hill, and I congratulate their very hard working group of volunteers.
Banjo Paterson Park will be receiving substantial funding (council and grants) to fulfill a number of the needs identified in its Conservation Management Plan
The Cecil Road overhead bridge refurbishment is about to begin, but I argue that it should be replaced with a two-way traffic bridge, particularly now there's the Christian School on the southern side, a church and numerous housing developments.
This week we have two citizenship ceremonies, and the seniors expo at the CWA hall.
It saddens me again to see vandalism on a large scale with the 'no-hopers' that drove vehicles around Perry Oval.
It is obvious by the ground damage done that these goons do not have the capacity to have a licence and I look forward to seeing them tracked down.
I am all for CCTVs in parks and public places etc, and seeing them used to "name and shame" vandals and for the courts to deal out appropriate punishment.
Hope all are looking forward to the June long weekend and I am sure Orange will be very busy. Keep warm, smile and enjoy what we have.