Twelve months ago a proposal for a Whitewater park in Tumut was well received by the Tumut Chamber of Commerce and members of the community, with almost 900 people signing a petition in support of the project.
Since then, project coordinator Robert Scott has been unsuccessful in attempts to gain funding for a feasibility and business study. A local kayak company also applied for a grant, but were unsuccessful.
“The research showed it’s very, very difficult to get funding for feasibility studies and business studies,” Mr Scott said.
“Everybody wants to see a tree in the ground or machinery to show where their money went.”
Returning from Queensland two months ago, just before the borders closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Scott has now approached Snowy Hydro community officer Luke Judd, asking for the opportunity to present the proposal and hopefully gain funding for the studies.
“When I came back I thought, I’m going to keep pushing,” he said.
“To be honest, it’s probably our last throw of the dice … to get that feasibility funding up, I don’t know how we can get it otherwise.”
It is estimated that a feasibility study and business study for the project would cost around $80,000.
Mr Scott feels “a little bit hopeful” about reaching out to Snowy Hydro, because representatives from the company were in attendance at the Tumut Chamber of Commerce last year when he first presented the project proposal.
“There are grants out there for the bigger money,” Mr Scott said, “especially federal funding, but much of that is what they call shovel ready projects; so you have to have all this feasibility study stuff done and the quotes and things like that all done before you can approach them.”
This is what has just happened in the town of Warren in western NSW, where the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund has provided over $600,000 to go towards the ‘Warren Water Park’ for local youth. This has brought the idea of water parks back onto the agenda.
Mr Scott said that feasibility studies are usually conducted by Council, but that is “not going to happen” in this case due to many factors, including SVC’s financial position.
“[This project] is the sort of thing that, without some major player supporting us, we’re going to struggle,” he said.
The reason that Mr Scott and other whitewater advocates have been pushing for the project is because they say the benefits will be “multi-faceted.”
“Not just the income that it would bring into the region, whether that be from…Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne but [also] from overseas,” Mr Scott said.
“Probably more importantly, really, is what it will do for the local community.
“Anywhere these things are being built in the world, they’re a beneficiary to the community because they’re just such a fantastic place for people, not just kids, to go and burn off some energy.”
Mr Scott said a whitewater park couldn’t only be utilised for fun and recreation, but also for training.
“It becomes a training ground for the SES, scouts, the PCYC…police, SWAT teams, things like that.”
Quoting the iconic baseball film ‘Field of Dreams’, Mr Scott said: “you build it and they’ll come.”