UNRELENTING rain has held up development of the the region’s first multimillion-dollar harness track.
Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) had planned to be building by now, but the flood-prone Cartwrights Hill site is completely sodden and covered in standing water, making it impossible for earth-moving vehicles to enter.
The proposed $6.5 million facility on 100 acres includes a race track, a two-storey clubhouse, 89 stables and designated parking.
Plans have been in the works for three-and-a-half years and HRNSW chief John Dumesny would not let record rain derail the project.
“Work will begin when it's dry enough to get on to the property,” Mr Dumesny said.
“We have stewards who check the site regularly and they're saying you can't take a vehicle on.
“We’ve been told by some locals that we won't get on there for months.
“I find that hard to believe because these are the same people who were totally against us from the start.”
Mr Dumesny, who only advertised for tenderers in Wagga and Albury, reaffirmed his commitment to local trades.
“The benefit of the delay is that we can take our time talking to builders to make sure we select the right one.
“We have time on our side; we don't have a deadline to be out of the showgrounds.”
Having purchased the site from council for $1 in 2013, the proposal was mired by nearby residents objecting to the development because of zoning, flooding, pollution and traffic concerns.
North Wagga Residents' Association president Dan Grentell the delay due to a water-logged vindicated the community’s abject opposition to the development.
“The site is a very high moisture level, with natural spring and a very high water table,” Mr Grentell said.
“All this rain we've had shows North Wagga is susceptible to flooding and there’s still more rain to come in the next few weeks; we’re not out of the woods.
“Our biggest concern is the trots track will displace flood water and push it back on to North Wagga.”
Vocal opponent and former builder John Hogan said HRNSW should have pursued a 35-hectare council-owned land on the corner of Copland Street and Kooringal Road.
“The cubic capacity displaced by building the track increases the height, which will means North Wagga floods earlier and more regularly.”