POLL: Old hospital site the party pooper for council’s wish list

ANOTHER year has passed, but the only thing changed at the former Orange Base Hospital is the number of broken windows and awnings.

But almost four years after the hospital moved to Forest Road, there might finally be a light at the end of the tunnel, according to mayor John Davis.

Site owner Health Infrastructure undertook an expressions of interest process in 2013 and Cr Davis felt a decision may have been imminent this year.

However the expected announcement by June did not come and negotiations have continued between Health Infrastructure and Orange City Council general manager Garry Styles in the months since.

With money set aside in the 2014-15 budget for the site, Cr Davis said he understood council had negotiated an outcome and was hopeful an announcement could be made by March.

“The idea is that at least council would have some control over what we’ll finish up with because it’s a big site with a good area around it, so it needs to be managed in a way that’s beneficial for Orange,” he said.

“Naturally, they want the best result they can get and it’s probably a good thing the finalisation never came to us in 2014 because to be honest, we wouldn’t have the ways to go forward because we’ve been really under the pump.”

Several options have been flagged for the site, including housing, commercial premises and a park.

Cr Davis said a park was unlikely, but residents would be able to play a part in the future direction of the site through a public consultation process.

He praised the completion of the Macquarie pipeline, with commissioning due early in the new year, and the start of construction for the museum.

“If there’s no water in the Macquarie, we can’t pump, that’s correct, but if we had the pipeline during the drought, our water supply would never have gotten below 50 per cent,” he said.

“People are starting to realise it’s one of the biggest decisions we’ve made for the viability of Orange.”

He looked forward to construction starting on the Southern Feeder Road in early 2015, as well as supporting the creation of new industries and advancing existing industries during the next three months in response to the Electrolux closure.

With discussions ongoing about toilets for Robertson Park, Cr Davis said a toilet block would still not cater for bigger events and believed pedestrian traffic lights linking the park with existing and future facilities at the Civic Centre would provide a good outcome.

He also said funding opportunities would be sought for the planetarium as it had synergies with the museum project.

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Upgrades to Wade Park – achieved, new scoreboard and picket fence

Construction started on the Orange Regional Museum – achieved

Continued roads spending – achieved

New airport terminal – achieved

Campaign to help Orange recover from Electrolux closure – achieved

Traffic light installation at the Forest Road/Huntley Road intersection – not achieved, but tender awarded

Southern Feeder Road stage one begun – not achieved, but tender awarded

Rectangular sporting field complex – not achieved, but land purchased

Hard stand area at showground – not achieved, but grant money secured

Decision on the future of the former Orange Base Hospital – not achieved

Changes to parking in the central business district – not achieved

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