MOYNE Shire Council has breathed fresh hope into stalled plans for a drag racing strip at the old Koroit racecourse by voting to become committee of management for the site.
In a spirited debate councillors decided 4-2 this week to approach the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) to become the management body and convert the Crown land grazing area into a multi-purpose recreation venue.
Warrnambool and District Drag Racing Club welcomed the vote as a positive step after more than five years of fruitless negotiations with the shire and city councils to find a permanent base to replace the temporary lease arrangement at Warrnambool airport.
It pays $8000 a year to run three race meetings on a section of the tarmac.
President Tony Frost yesterday said it was a step closer to achieving the goal.
“Now we know where we are heading,” he said.
Cr Colin Ryan kickstarted debate when he disregarded physical services director Trevor Greenberger’s recommendation to help the club gain a licence agreement with the DSE.
Mr Greenberger said a committee of management arrangement would cost time and money for the council, increase community expectations and raise insurance concerns.
However, Cr Ryan said the council should show leadership and provide an area for a drag racing venue.
“In the future it will be looked on as a good strategic decision,” he said.
Councillors Mick Wolfe and Bernie Harris opposed the motion arguing that neighbours would be detrimentally affected and there could be protracted complications with native land title. “Suddenly we want to put a race track in the middle of farm land,” Cr Wolfe said.
“What’s that going to do for residents in that area?
“Native title negotiations could go to court and there could be compensation.”
Cr Harris said he was concerned the council was taking on too much.