The decontamination of the disused gas depot at East Maitland is not going to be cheap.
But the work is necessary.
For the past 20 years, the land on the corner of Brisbane and Banks streets has sat fenced off from the public,
A September 2010 action plan put the cost of excavating and removing contamination from the site at $12 million.
But with only $135,855 of its own money for the job, the mayor of Maitland, Cr Peter Blackmore, seized on the change of government last year to make a bid to then new Maitland MP and Environment Minister Robyn Parker on behalf of the people of Maitland for the site to be cleaned up.
Testing to determine the extent of the contamination – and therefore, the likely cost of cleaning it up – will be known by council within weeks.
The land has been a blight on the East Maitland
landscape for too long and the fact that there finally appears to be some action on its clean up is welcome.
It is a potentially prime piece of real estate in a
relatively central location, something that is all too scarce in Maitland.
And, as Cr Blackmore was quoted last year as saying last year, lot of ideas have been put forward for its future use.
But as he also correctly pointed out: “It’s a contaminated site and we don’t want to put people at risk”.
That was the bottom line then, as it is now, and as it will remain into the future.
There must be no short-cuts taken in the decontamination process.