Incoming Motorcycling Australia President, Braxton Laine, in a missive titled ‘Change has occured at the Governing Body‘, among many subjects also mentioned the ongoing situation concerning the motocross facility at Barrabool.
Braxton Laine – “The second hot topic is the McAdam Park Motocross facility at Barrabool. Once again what has transpired is in the past, so let’s focus on moving positively forward to resolve the issue. Dale (Gilson – new M.A. CEO replacing David White) and I have met with the Surf Coast Shire and other stakeholders in the first weeks of our tenure as President and CEO. We attended this meeting but we did not contribute, we only listened to what was said. Talks are occurring with Geelong Council in securing a piece of land in the Geelong area that will have a brand new facility built on it. The McAdam Park member clubs will be consulted regarding the design and construction of the facility. I have a good understanding of the issues which have transpired over time and Dale will be quickly brought up to speed so that we can all make informed decisions to ensure a sustainable future for motorcycle sport in the Geelong and Surf Coast Shire regions. Having only been in the role for three weeks I would appreciate a bit of patience, Rome was not built in a day and there are some complex issues as I have stated that require due diligence.”
Obviously the Sporting Motorcycle Club, the club behind McAdam Park at Barrabool, are pushing for things to progress quickly as during the weekend the club unloaded both barrels at outgoing CEO David White in this following correspondence, titled, “McAdam Park club demands Motorcycling Australia remove ex CEO.”
Their, that is the Sporting Motor Cycle Club’s, correspondence is published in full below. We have contacted Motorcycling Australia for further comment but at time of publishing an official response has not been forthcoming.
The Sporting Motor Cycle Club (SMCC) of McAdam Park, Barrabool, has served notice on Motorcycling Australia (MA) requesting the now semi-retired CEO of MA, David White, be removed from further involvement in any matters regarding the SMCC, McAdam Park, or any potential future facility for the local riders of the region.
Following the recent appointment of Dale Gilson as new CEO of MA, the Board requested Mr. White (who since MA taking ownership had been managing McAdam Park matters) continue in a lesser role to oversee MA’s exit from McAdam Park and the possible establishment of another new facility.
The SMCC informed CEO Dale Gilson, that the club has no confidence in Mr. White to perform these duties and have asked for his removal.
President of the SMCC, Gary Adams says “We are hoping that with the change of guard at MA we will finally have our voice heard and sense will prevail. Barrabool used to be a great place; for nearly 5 decades we never had an issue. It only took 4 years, but under the direction of David White we are facing the demise of McAdam Park and motorcycling in our region is now in a shambles. Enough is enough. From the beginning the SMCC has felt slighted by MA; the club invested years of toil and nearly $300,000 on fundraising efforts and expert consultants in order to raise half of the $3.1M needed to help MA purchase McAdam Park – this has not only never been recognised – but we have also been told our money is gone!”
The final straw for the SMCC was the formulation of an exit agreement late last year between McAdam Park neighbours and MA, whereby MA has agreed to sell McAdam Park as farmland once the gates are finally closed at the end of 2015, after which MA will voluntarily extinguish the valuable land usage rights attached to the land. The SMCC was largely responsible for proving existing use rights existed in a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) proceeding in 2011.
“This was negotiated behind our backs, by the time we knew it was all but signed off. It’s fair enough MA wanting to get out after having spent over $1M on obviously fraught legal battles, but as the representative for our sport, how could you throw away priceless legal existing usage rights for motorcycling? If I had something that valuable I wouldn’t be throwing it away.”
A recent announcement from MA stated the reason for closing McAdam Park was because of a recent VCAT decision; the SMCC says the announcement is misleading to the public and devoid of the facts. Mr Adams continued, “VCAT did not determine that motorcycling could not continue at McAdam Park, they only refused what MA ‘wanted’ for McAdam Park – there’s a huge difference.”
“The facts are the VCAT findings suggested the McAdam Park site could possibly continue on a smaller scale of operation consistent with existing use rights should that be desired. The rights are still attached to the land; these rights can be passed on to new owners. MA fell down because it sought much higher levels of use than historic club usage, this is what VCAT refused. If not for the exit agreement, it could have been possible for motor bike riding to continue, only on a lower scale. This is what the neighbour group were asking for; the gulf was never bridged and is the reason for the years of conflict.”
“Basically David White and the Board have said ‘if we can’t have McAdam Park for high levels of use, then no-one can have it, even for low levels of use’. The whole deal smacks of self-interest, mixed in with a good dose of discrimination and prejudice on more than one level. We have one mess behind us and in trying to sort what to do in future it looks like another is coming.”
Geelong and regions riders had for 40 years enjoyed the use of 2 tracks until 2008 when the urban based Breakwater track closed. In 2009 the City of Greater Geelong announced a new site was available nearby Avalon Airport, but was left aside as the focus was on McAdam Park. More recently the SMCC had for several years been urging MA to accept that for McAdam Park to survive it must return to being a low key club level facility; and MA must instead pursue other potential sites for a second Motocross track. The SMCC says this would have the effect of removing pressure from the McAdam Park situation and allow breathing space to renegotiate with governments over funding and seek a resolution with neighbours.
“Regrettably, David White could not accept this alternate thinking, and up until recently had doggedly refused our pleas to investigate the golden opportunity of securing a possible second track at Avalon – we have his personally signed letter saying so. Now that his policies have failed and MA is selling up McAdam Park, guess where investigations for a new track are leading? Unfortunately, as a replacement the new site is not a patch on McAdam Park – it is small, flat and rocky. It would have best served as the second track for the regions riders – not the only one. To add insult to injury, Mr. White has indicated to us that the only funds going into the proposed new facility would be what little is left from government funding, the remaining funds derived from selling McAdam Park it seems will be absorbed into MA general revenue.”
Mr. Adams concluded, “The SMCC has invested huge amounts of time and money into securing McAdam Park; as far as we’re concerned we are part owners – we have been the silent partners long enough. David White’s handling of this entire process has lacked any real inclusion and transparency from its beginning in 2009. David White was the person responsible for directing the MA Board on matters at McAdam Park, so he’s also accountable for the travesty that has happened here, and to our sport locally. We cannot accept that he continue in any role associated with controlling what is our money and our future.”
We will update this story should any further statement be issued by Motorcycling Australia this afternoon.
As further background this damning piece from the Geelong Advertiser from March this year, also has seen the mainstream press go on the attack.
ANTHEA CANNON, GEELONG ADVERTISER MARCH 09, 2014 2:29PM
BARRABOOL’S McAdam Park motocross track will close at the end of 2015 following a four-year dispute between riders and residents.
The settlement between Barrabool Rural Protection Group, Barrabool Hills Community Association and landowner Motorcycling Australia leaves the region’s motorcycling fraternity up in the air unless plans for another facility can be realised.
The parties settled after VCAT last year rejected a planning application to development the site, which has been used by motorcyclists since 1962.
All parties lamented the more than $1.6 million which went into the bitter fight.
Activity will wind down over the next 18 months, with controls on opening hours, frequency of races, noise levels and bike numbers, before all buildings and tracks are removed.
The State Government, Surf Coast Shire and City of Greater Geelong had agreed to support Motorcycling Australia develop a major regional motorsports centre at McAdam Park and that money could still be used for an alternative development.
Cr Eddy Kontelj, who has lobbied for a Geelong motorsport facility, said Avalon Airport was open to motocross track and one could be constructed before the end of 2015.
“There’s so many recreational motorcyclists in Geelong and if we’re talking about ways to bring people to Geelong, this could be something that attracts people with events and competitions,” he said.
“There are too many kids wanting to do it safe and legally and if we don’t provide (a venue) it can lead to delinquent activity.
“It’s time to step up and get this going but we will need support from the motorcycling community and funding.”
Cr Kontelj was confident the amenity issues that plagued McAdam Park wouldn’t occur at Avalon.
“It’s industrial at Avalon with the airport, quarry and highway. (A motocross track) would not be out of character with what’s there,” he said.
But Sporting Motocross Club Barrabool, which is based at McAdam Park, has called for another option.
In a statement on their website, SMCC’s executive committee said it was “astounded” by the settlement and said losing the park would “devastate” the sport.
The club was scathing of MA’s role in the fight arguing it ignored pleas from the club to abandon the expansion plans and allow the club-based facility to remain at the existing level.
“The SMCC, who has been based at McAdam Park since 1962, will now face being homeless, with no guarantees of an alternate replacement facility,” one statement read.
“The SMCC believes the core reason for this outcome was MA’s dogged unwillingness to negotiate toward a realistic and fair outcome.
“At McAdam Park we had legal access to 200 acres of beautiful rolling hills and gullies, in comparison the Avalon site is much smaller, flat and rock infested.
“It is like offering a rowing club a 20 acre paddock. There needs to be a better solution.”
BRPG and BHCA member Lyn George hailed the settlement as a victory for common sense.
“To ensure there is a suitable facility for the riders to transition to when riding concludes at McAdam Park, it is now imperative all parties work together to ensure the Avalon outcome is achieved,” she said.
Local resident and Surf Coast Cr Heather Wellington, who was a key figure in the fight, said she hoped lessons would be learned from the poor decision making.
“Those decisions, which were clearly founded in politics rather than good planning, led to extreme community anxiety and a scandalous waste of public and private money, to solve a problem that should not have arisen in the first place,” she said.
Geelong Motocross Club president Frank Cambria said the club was disappointed with the VCAT decision but were working with council and confident of establishing a new facility by 2015.
Motorcycle Australia could not be contacted for comment yesterday.