City News

Ultimo Public School questions left ‘unanswered’

Ultimo Public School P&C members have been left scratching their heads after questions were left unanswered at a meeting on July 1 with Education Minister Adrian Piccoli.

The meeting, which took place in the minister’s office, was organised to discuss the future development of Ultimo Public School.

The government announced last month that a new school on the Wattle Street site would not go ahead due to “unviable” remediation costs of more than $53 million.

But the health risk of the contaminated soil could be nullified for as little as $10.5 million according advice solicited by the Department of Education and Communities.

The department was forced to release the document, in which advisory company McLahlan Lister Pty detailed remediation options for the site, under freedom of information laws.

The City of Sydney has since condemned Education Minister Adrian Piccoli for his betrayal of the Ultimo-Pyrmont community.

President of Ultimo Public School P&C Janine Barrett said she was disappointed with the meeting.

A letter obtained by City Hub sent from Ms Barrett to the minister, dated July 6, expressed concern over the minister’s apparent lack of knowledge.

“I am personally disappointed that during our meeting on July 1, it became apparent you had not been briefed regarding the historical debacle of the redevelopment of Ultimo Public School,” she wrote.

“This [occurred], despite numerous letters sent by myself to you, to ensure you were well versed as to why we continue to reject the proposed redevelopment of the current site.”

Greens MP for Balmain Jamie Parker said he was “unconvinced” about the purported contamination.

“We’re incredibly disappointed that the government broke their promise to build this new school and we’re unconvinced that the contamination is as serious and as expensive as the government claims,” Mr Parker said.

“So we support the call for an independent assessment to see whether or not the contamination and the costs are more than just an excuse for the government not to proceed.”

Bill d’Anthes is a member of the Ultimo Public School P&C and was also present at the July 1 Meeting. He told City Hub the meeting was “very bad” and that there were in fact “a series of ways in which we could solve the problem”.

“The first being the cheapest way, the second being the way that would solve the problem and make it safe for the school, and the third that would be to take everything out as far down as they could go,” he said.

Mr d’Anthes also said the department made it clear to him the government’s decision was irrevocable.

He said that the community was fed up and that “civil disobedience” could be a likely outcome.

The spokesperson for the department told City Hub the decision will not change.

“The Department’s expert advice indicated that additional geotechincal and environmental investigations are unlikely to change the advice already provided,” they said.

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