MELVILLE council will plough ahead with plans to develop John Connell reserve in Leeming just two months after re-classifying the former tip site as extremely risky to residents if left unremediated.
It believes the expected $10.8 million cost of “removing contaminated soil, disposal of this soil, importing of clean fill” can be recovered by property sales.
On Tuesday, the council spent two and a half hours discussing the proposal, which was then approved eight votes to four.
The council reclassified the site’s risk category from medium to extreme in May, stating, “failure to identify and treat contaminated sites may result in contamination affecting surrounding properties”.
Cr Nick Pazolli says Tuesday’s decision “opens the door to the next level of investigation, including a business case”. He notes council officers had been unable to answer questions about the extent of contamination.
In April 2013 the council endorsed three of six concept plans to redevelop the Melville Glades golf course and John Connell reserve, bounded by Bainton and Beasley roads and Roe Highway.
“The concepts examined opportunities to enhance the local community, whilst responding to the need to address contamination associated with the former use of John Connell Reserve for landfill,” a staff report states.
A 208-signature petition by locals calls on the council to confine planning to the reserve only and leave the golf club reserve in its current form, “with no proposal to introduce residential development”. Petitioners criticised the lack of community consultation.
In 2011 the council signed a memorandum-of-understanding with Melville Glades Golf Club regarding the site’s future.
Toxic waste experts urge the council to exercise caution, saying contaminated sites should not be disturbed unless councils can afford expensive remediation. Based on the results of 14 test pits, commissioned consultants SKM Environmental advised the council the reserve is most suitable for passive and active recreation.
by CARMELO AMALFI