Go-kart club fears for future

Northern Rivers Kart Club secretary-treasurer Peter Baillie (left) and founder Barry Fisher with Peters son Drew Baillie at the Lismore showground site.

After 36 years operating at the Lismore showgrounds, the Northern Rivers Kart Club fears it could be homeless when its lease comes to an end in 2009.

The uncertainty comes as the North Coast National A&I Society calls for expressions of interest from private enterprise for a joint, money-making venture for the 40 acre parcel of land it owns at the showgrounds (where the Kart Club is located), as it seeks to better its financial position.

Show Society president John Gibson said selling the land is also a possibility, although it is not the preferred option at this stage.

Kart Club secretary-treasurer Peter Baillie said the club had offered to buy the land from the Show Society, but their offer was refused.

Now it is seeking to give the Show Society $30,000 in return for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the club will have first right to purchase the land should it come up for sale.

He said the money would need to be returned by the end of February if no satisfactory MOU was entered into by that date.

He said the $30,000 could be a deposit towards the purchase price, but it was all negotiable and could be worked out solicitor to solicitor.

Weve had a valuation done on the land which says its worth $80,000, he said. If that was the price then the $30,000 could be above and beyond that. If they want $200,000 for the land then we would want it to be a deposit towards the sale.

Meanwhile, at Tuesdays Lismore City Council meeting, councillors voted to furnish the Show Society with a bank guarantee of $30,000 until the end of March.

From our point of view thats giving them something they dont really need because weve offered to give them $30,000, said Mr Baillie.

Mr Gibson said the Show Society needed to carefully consider its options and was not about to rush into anything.

He said the situation was extremely complex because the Show Society was separate from the Lismore Showground Trust, which looks after the crown land section of the showgrounds. The majority of the infrastructure at the showgrounds (pavilions and grandstands) are all located on crown land, and millions of dollars are needed to bring this ageing infrastructure up to scratch, he said. Lismore City Council has suggested the infrastructure upgrade could be paid for by selling Show Society land.

However, Mr Gibson said they were reluctant to do that because the Show Society land was a safety net to make sure they always had money to put on a show.

We couldnt just sell the land to the go-kart people without exploring the options, he said. They might get it eventually if theyve got enough money.

He said a joint venture could incorporate the Kart Club, but any arrangement would need to be on a commercial basis with market rent.

The Northern Rivers Kart Club says it would like to spend more money to upgrade its site, but is unable to do so while its future is so uncertain.

Club founder Barry Fisher said they had so far invested $1 million developing the site, which would all be dead money if they had to leave at the end of 2009.

We want to do more things, but whilst were in limbo we cant, he said. Weve had Australian titles here and two state titles. Wed like to produce a first grade complex but in the current climate were not in a position to do so.

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