The impact of legal proceedings involving the synthetic field upgrade at Gardiner Park has cost Bayside Council in excess of $440,000, a budget review has revealed.
The figure was revealed in the council's Quarterly Budget Review Statement for the Quarter ended 31 March, 2022 presented to the May 23 council meeting.
The Council has incurred substantial legal costs which will be in excess of $290,000.
The budget review also includes an allocation of $150,000 for the additional costs incurred on the project due to the delays experienced on the site.
"The Friends of Gardiner Park Inc" community group commenced legal proceedings against Bayside Council in 2020 challenging the council's synthetic field upgrade project at Gardiner Park," the council report stated.
"The Land and Environment Court, in December 2020, dismissed a stop work injunction taken out by the Friends of Gardiners Park against Bayside Council.
"This allowed work to proceed even, though delayed. As a consequence, Council made changes to its construction plans and made commitments to the Court, however, the Friends continued to pursue the legal action.
"On 22 March 2022, the Land and Environment Court of NSW ruled in favour of Bayside Council and the case initiated by the Friends against the project was dismissed.
"However, in defending itself against these legal proceedings, Council has incurred substantial legal costs which will be in excess of $290,000.
"Council is seeking to recover these costs from the Friends. In addition to incurring significant legal expenses, Council's works at Gardiner Park have also been impacted by the delays caused by the legal proceedings and associated actions.
"These delays have resulted in considerable overruns and contract variations in progressing the works through to completion. If delivered within its original timeframes, the Gardiner Park project was expected to be fully funded by a Government Grant provided to Council specifically for synthetic field upgrades.
"This budget review includes an allocation of $150,000 for the additional costs incurred on the project due to the delays experienced onsite, it is proposed that these costs be funded from existing internal reserves.
"In summary, unless Council is able to recover some of the costs incurred, the action taken by The Friends has caused additional costs to Council in excess of $440,000," the council report stated."
Bayside mayor, Dr Christina Curry said, "There's been a court ruling. We are advertising for a reference group and encourage people to put in an expression of interest and we will work with the community in order to look at ways the park can be upgraded."
Cr Heidi Douglas said, "I know the community is hurting. I think the reference group is a great idea but it has come way too late .
"There is still a lot of work to be done to heal the social licence that has been destroyed in the community which is much bigger than the $440,000 worth of taxpayers money spent on this court case."
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