Council puts its cash in Wonga

MONEY from the sale of the mothballed Ettamogah wildlife sanctuary will be pumped into the Wonga Wetlands.

An Albury Council committee is tonight expected to clear the way for the proceeds from a sale that could fetch as much as $400,000 to go to the city’s environmental showpiece.

Oze-Wildlife’s founder Heidi Peck will also be recognised as part of the wetlands investment.

The sanctuary closed in May, less than two years after celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Only last month the last of the animals — two emus, seven wallabies and seven eastern grey kangaroos for which no home could be found — were shot.

A report to the planning and development committee has said the council should sell the sanctuary land.

“Ms Heidi Peck was the driving force behind the establishment of the sanctuary in 1970 and its operation prior to her passing in 1986,” the council officer’s report said.

“Her contribution is well known and recognised by the community.

“The proposed use of funds to support the development of Wonga Wetlands, a council owned site of 590ha with 10km of Murray River frontage, is considered appropriate and in keeping with the endeavours of Oze-Wildlife in terms of the educational, tourism, natural environment and recreational opportunities Wonga Wetlands offers, and has the potential to provide to the community over the long term.”

The council papers suggest the land is worth $250,000 to $400,000.

“The property is classified as “operational land” and is zoned B7 “business park” under the Albury Local Environment Plan 2010,” the report said.

“About 10 hectares in area, the site is estimated to have a market value of $250,000 to $400,000, based on an analysis of recent sales of nearby properties with the same zoning and those listed for sale by the Albury Wodonga Corporation.”

The Albury Council bought the land from the Friends of Ettamogah Sanctuary Incorporated in 1997 for $87,500.

It then leased the land back to the sanctuary.

Wonga Wetlands is hailed as an outstanding success as an experiment in river restoration.

‘Wonga’ is the Wiradjuri word for black cormorant — one of the most abundant bird species in the area.

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