Fear funding for Warners Bay garden may be pulled

GROWING CONCERN: Members of the Warners Bay Community Garden group at Eleebana yesterday. The group fears a $52,000 grant may soon be lost. - Picture by Brock Perks
GROWING CONCERN: Members of the Warners Bay Community Garden group at Eleebana yesterday. The group fears a $52,000 grant may soon be lost. - Picture by Brock Perks

A WARNERS Bay group is at risk of losing a $52,000 state grant for a community garden because Lake Macquarie City Council has not provided a site for the garden.

More than 300 people want to be involved with the garden and have joined the group as members or friends.

Warners Bay Community Garden Group convener Ben Henley said he was pleased to have secured the grant, but feared the money could be lost.

A condition of the grant is that the project must begin within three months of an agreement being signed for it.

As reported in May, councillors voted 8-4 to shelve the group's plan to establish a garden in Bunya Park, Eleebana, until a management plan had been prepared.

Mr Henley hopes the council will reconsider the matter soon, so the grant money is not lost.

"Despite a long series of disappointments, our group is patiently awaiting council's reassessment," he said.

Dozens of small businesses, community groups and many residents supported the plan.

"We've always had a huge amount of community support and now we have the financial means to make it happen," Mr Henley said.

"All that is missing is the stamp of approval from Lake Macquarie City Council."

He said the Bunya Park site was rarely used and the council had originally proposed it to be used for a community garden.

A council spokeswoman said council staff were developing a process to assess and approve community gardens.

"The new procedure will be used to evaluate proposed community gardens where they are intended for community land," she said.

"Bunya Park will be one of many sites assessed for suitability for a community garden".

Mr Henley said the group's plan would begin with "a few vegie beds, some fruit trees, some native bushfoods and a swale to protect the adjoining bush from nutrient runoff"'.