The Korumburra Agricultural and Pastoral Society has asked for council to buy the saleyards site, saying it was the perfect opportunity to expand the showgrounds reserve for another oval, dedicated horse section and parking. The saleyards will go up for auction on October 31 at 11am onsite.
By Danika Dent
IF THE South Gippsland council fails to register a bid for the Korumburra saleyards site at the end of the month, it will be seen by the community as a wasted opportunity.
That is the view of the Korumburra Agricultural and Pastoral Society (KAPS).
On Wednesday, KAPS urged council to put in a bid for the site to accommodate the town’s growth and relieve increasing pressure on the showgrounds reserve.
However, council has neither confirmed nor denied it would consider buying any of the six lots that will go up for auction on October 31.
During Wednesday’s public presentation session, councillors recognised the need to plan for Korumburra’s growth – the population is predicted to jump to 10,000 people in 10 years’ time.
Councillors also agreed the main entrance to the showground, from the highway, was dangerous.
However, they also called for more information.
“Council needs to plan for a new oval for Korumburra and possibly Leongatha, to accommodate for the predicted growth,” ward councillor Andrew McEwen said.
“However, council moves at a slower rate than what you’re looking for,” he told presenter, KAPS vice president Syd Whyte.
Cr Harding agreed, requesting a study of the site before council committed funds.
“We need a study done over the land to look in to this seriously,” she said, before Cr Bob Newton exclaimed: “We haven’t got the time – it goes up for auction in a couple of weeks!
“We’ve got the opportunity now – we should grab it with both hands!”
KAPS president Doug Applebee said it was difficult to tell if councillors were supportive of KAPS’s presentation.
“I’m feeling a bit negative about it personally, because we just don’t have time on our side,” he said.
“There are six blocks and they could be sold individually or as a whole – if we can’t get any land, we’re stuck with what we’ve got, we won’t be able to expand.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“We feel there’s other industrial land in the existing estate, and to the west of the area that could be used, rather than taking the only opportunity we’ve got.
“What we’d really like is for council to come on board and purchase a couple of blocks to open up the area for parking and another oval.
“We’d particularly like a section that could be used wholly and solely for horses so the football oval would be kept for just that activity and would stay in a better condition for football.”
Bid is in
Mr Applebee said KAPS had put in an offer for a 1.3 acre lot.
That lot is landlocked and access is only through the showgrounds site.
KAPS’s offer will be made through debentures.
“It’s not ideal, but we don’t have many other options,” Mr Applebee said.
“Council missed the opportunity to buy it when the saleyards were first sold.
“That opportunity was lost to us in the wheeling and dealing that followed.”
Mr Applebee said if council didn’t take the opportunity to expand the showgrounds now, it would be many years and much more expensive to develop a new site.
Mr Whyte said space was already a significant issue at the site: The skate park will be moved off site to create more parking space, an application for a Men’s Shed was regretfully knocked back because there wasn’t enough room, the Dairy Expo was forced to bus visitors from parking at the saleyards to the site, Auskick is held at the primary school’s Pony Paddock, and the overuse of the oval from show-jumping, horse events and football meant the playing surface was never able to recover.
“The saleyards were originally zoned public utility before being sold for approximately $1.1 million,” Mr Whyte said.
“Why can’t we buy it back and put it back to public utility?
“We’re in desperate need of the space.”
The possibility of bidding for the saleyards site is likely to come to council at its October 22 meeting.