THE news of more than $6 million of funding for a new koala park and education centre for Gunnedah in this year’s NSW budget has been welcomed by Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey.
Cr Chaffey first heard the news while at the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) conference in Canberra and told The Namoi Valley Independent he felt mixed emotions upon hearing the news.
“It really is awesome news,” Cr Chaffey said.
“As a council we have been working really hard for some time to see this come to pass and when I heard that it was a go, I had a mix of emotions from joy, to relief, to a variety of others.
“For the state government to show their support for this cause is really terrific and for us as a shire and fills us with a great deal of confidence knowing that support is there.
“I think it just goes to show the commitment the state government has to regional NSW.”
The Gunnedah mayor said Gunnedah Shire Council had pushed for the project since he was elected to the position in 2016.
“Without the help of a lot of key people behind the scenes, this would never of come about,” he said.
“Realistically this process started when the current council came in in 2016 and it came off the back of a lot of community consultation conducted by council.
“Following that consultation we included it into our community strategic plan as an unfunded project and it is very nice to see it come to fruition today.”
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Cr Chaffey said while it was “early days” council would begin discussing where the project goes from here.
“Realistically our first step is to come together and set out what steps are in place for us from here,” he said.
“I’m not sure when that will happen, so at this stage it’s not really possible to set a time frame on that process.
“However, I do want to praise our organisation for their hard work on helping to bring this result and I am very happy for the community that we can now move forward on this project that was clearly indicated to us a priority from the community so long ago.”