December 6, 2017
A proposal to move Wooroolin Railway Station back to its original location has attracted support from the Wooroolin community but has aroused concerns in some South Burnett councillors.
In August, the Wooroolin Lions Club secured a $32,784 grant from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund to move the railway building from its current location at the Wooroolin Sports Ground to Dalton Park, in the heart of town.
The Lions also had a long-term plan to build a display shed nearby that would house agricultural machinery formerly used in the Wooroolin area. Part of the grant would be used to fund that project as well.
However, some councillors have expressed concerns about the proposal, saying the lack of a master plan for the South Burnett Rail Trail could lead to haphazard developments that might damage its uniqueness.
They would like to call a complete halt to all development on the trail until such a master plan has been created, a process that could take as long as one or two years.
Other councillors have concerns that if the Wooroolin project went ahead, Council could be left “holding the baby” if the Wooroolin Lions Club ceased to operate.
On Friday, Councillors Gavin Jones, Roz Frohloff, Terry Fleischfresser and Danita Potter met with about eight representatives from Wooroolin community groups to see if a sensible compromise could be reached.
Noel Weller, from the Wooroolin Lions Club, admitted that in hindsight it might have been better if the Lions had consulted with Council before they applied for the grant, which has to be acquitted by August 2018.
He said the Lions had consulted Council staff about the proposal, and knew the issue was tabled at a Council portfolio meeting in August.
“If we’d known the Council didn’t plan to build anything on the Rail Trail for two years we could have waited until they were ready,” Noel said.
“We really didn’t expect to receive funding for the project as quickly as we did.
“But when we got the grant three months ago we didn’t think there would be any problems, either.”
Noel said the Lions Club had carefully costed the project to ensure it would be built at no cost to Council.
“It will preserve an important historic local building and develop a new tourist attraction on the South Burnett Rail Trail,” he said.
“It’s a project that would be good for our town, too, which is why it has so much community support.”
Noel lives within sight of the Rail Trail and said he was astonished at the number of people who were already using it, including cycling clubs which camped at Dalton Park for a few days so they could ride the trail to Murgon one day and Kingaroy the next.
“We’ve already had some of these people asking if we can install bicycle racks, barbecues and similar things they could use to make their stay more enjoyable.
“Should we be saying ‘No, we don’t have a master plan so we can’t build anything for two years?’ That makes no sense if we’re trying to grow tourism.”
Noel said any concerns some councillors had about being left with an unwanted extra asset if something happened to the Lions Club also had a simple answer – just sell the building.
“We are prepared to maintain the station building and the shed, so the only cost Council would have is mowing around them, which it does already.”
Noel said that overall, the meeting with Councillors to discuss the project had been positive and he was happy they were willing to talk the issues over and look at potential solutions.
“They’ve given the machinery shed a go-ahead because we’ve been working on it since the days the land was controlled by TMR,” Noel said.
“And if we leased a section of Dalton Park near the QCWA Rooms and put the station there, they’ve told us they’d be okay with that, too.
“But they’re not okay with our preferred location opposite the old Wooroolin Station platform which would have the building facing into town, and I think that’s a bit odd because it’s all Rail Trail land wherever we put it.”
Local resident Carl Rackemann, another Wooroolin Lion who attended the meeting, agreed it was a constructive get-together where many ideas were considered, although he was surprised about some of the issues the Councillors had raised.
On Tuesday, South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said he had voted in favour of the Lions proposal (at a Council committee meeting) along with Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff and Cr Ros Heit, so the trio had not attended Friday’s meeting.
Instead, he had asked Councillors with concerns to sit down with the Wooroolin community to talk them through.
The Mayor said he could see some potential problems with public liability insurance and WH&S matters that might not have been included in the Lions’ grant, but believed they were all solvable.
“This issue hasn’t come before a Council meeting yet, so I’d like to stress that no final decision has been made at this time,” he said.
“But I’m pleased our councillors are getting together with the community to look for solutions.”
The Wooroolin Lions will be holding a special meeting to discuss the project next Monday night before the club takes its annual break.