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The Goulburn Crookwell Heritage Rail Trail presents an “Enormous Opportunity” for the area that could help deliver much needed benefits - and deal with all legitimate concerns of landholders.
This is the view of Mr. Paul Culhane, a member of the rail trail group and Upper Lachlan Councillor as expressed in a letter to the Crookwell Gazette.
Mr. Culhane’s full letter follows.
Rail Trail an Opportunity too good to pass up
The biggest challenge to the fabric of Crookwell and district society as we know (or knew) it is providing adequate opportunities for the youth of Crookwell and young families.
At the last census In NSW the average percentage of people between the ages of 20 to 34 was 20.1% (20.6% across Australia) whereas in Upper Lachlan Shire we have only 10.5%.
One reason is school leavers leave our community to attend higher education in other areas, however, that was always the case.
The real reason is the lack of employment opportunities for this age group.
The potato industry, shearing industry and general farming sector that provided the bulk of employment opportunities in days gone by and have either declined or shed labor through the use of better equipment that saves on labor.
As any long standing resident knows in the seventies and eighties Crookwell had a Saturday tennis competition with up to eight grades, junior and senior men and women’s hockey competitions as well as many other sports much stronger than they are today.
This is perhaps the most obvious social consequence of losing a large chunk of this age group.
On a positive note in the last five years, with the every increasing number of people looking to travel and our improved connecting road infrastructure, we are seeing increasing visitors and hence tourism spend, which is slowly boosting our accommodation, food and general commercial sectors and providing some jobs.
Tourism is the only standout sector that realistically can grow into the future and provide employment for our youth and help keep the right balance of age in our community so that our hospitals, schools, clubs etc can be maintained.
The Goulburn – Crookwell Heritage Rail Trail project presents an enormous opportunity for our district which if properly designed and managed can contribute significantly in delivering those much needed benefits and also deal with all legitimate concerns that affected landholders have raised.
Pleasingly, the consultants who assisted with the local design, found the affected residents were largely positive (more than two thirds) and there was a much higher acceptance of the project than many other similar projects around the country.
This article first appeared on www.crookwellgazette.com.au
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