THE $25 million sporting precinct at Bloomfield might be on the verge of construction but if several speakers at Tuesday night's candidates forum are elected, it could be wound back.
Mayoral candidates Lesley Smith, Amanda Spalding, Neil Jones and Tony Mileto joined Steven Peterson, David Mallard, Frances Kinghorne, Melanie McDonell, Gerald Power, Scott Munro and Gail Copping at the forum which was staged by the Orange Residents and Ratepayers Association, Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange and the Orange Social Justice Group.
Around 100 people attended the forum which gave each candidate the opportunity to speak on issues closest to their campaign before a series of questions were taken from the floor, with some responses giving moderator John Burke and timekeepers' Ann Dib and Helen Croke a few anxious moments.
Consultation, collaboration and working harmoniously was a part of almost all the candidates' spiels.
The conversion of farming land to housing development, the acceptance of refugees from Afghanistan and COVID-19 vaccination coercion were raised by the floor while ECCO's Nick King asked for a pledge on revisiting the stadium project.
Incumbent councillor Tony Mileto was straightforward in saying he would continue to support the stadium project, while Scott Munro, also standing for re-election, defended the project and what he felt had been adequate community consultation.
Ratepayers candidate Frances Kinghorne said she believed there had been over 80 submissions against the project and was disappointed these had been largely ignored, a stance backed by Melanie McDonell and both said they agreed a revisit was necessary.
Like Ms Kinghorne, Dr Steve Peterson said a major concern was the traffic issue so close to the Orange Health Service.
"If I'm elected, making sure parking and traffic is adequate, that will be my beef," he summed up.
"I support a review of the remainder of the scoping process to see whether a better result can be achieved for all, inclusive of the so-called silent majority that is thrown at us frequently," Ms Spalding said.
While backing a review, Greens' candidate David Mallard admitted he wasn't sure what could be done.
"We can't wind back time and get back to that original point but we do need to look at those bits that are going ahead ... what's the vision and what's the approach for the rest of that site is really important and how do we protect it.
"Removing 100s of mature trees at a time when we are needing to reduce emissions ... is a really bad decision in terms of climate."
Mayoral candidate Neil Jones said he believed the best place for the project was its original Northern Distributor Road site.
"I was part of the council that made the decision on the Norther Distributor site, I think there were 11 councillors that voted on the recommendation of staff that this was an ideal location for a sporting precinct with great opportunities for a future association with Suma Park dam," he said.
He added he felt council had not carried out adequate consultation.
"They did not have one on-site meeting with the community. They had one community consultation in the foyer of the Civic Theatre. It was totally inadequate consultation," he commented.
"And I will be seeking a review on what happens between the two sports stadiums.
"But see what happens with the regional planning panel. It could well be out of council's hands."
Ms Smith said she was disappointed with what she perceived was a lack of process, agreeing with Mr Jones that Suma Park reservoir could have lent itself to the project for water recreation activities.
"I'm very disappointed in the lack of process," she said.
"It is landlocked where it is," she said.
Apart from the stadium project, Sister Mary Trainor also asked for the candidates position on welcoming refugees, especially from war-torn Afghanistan to Orange.
While the majority said they would back opening the city, Tony Mileto, Frances Kinghorne, Scott Munro and Gail Copping tempered their response with Orange's shortage of housing and the need for support infrastructure for such a program.
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