Greyhound racing appears set to return in Orange, with planned development of a new multi-million dollar track confirmed.
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Sale of the now-abandoned Highlands Paceway off Bathurst Road to racing lobby GBOTA for an undisclosed sum have been agreed to in principle.
Councillors were briefed on the decision in a closed meeting Tuesday night, ACM understands.
Details of the Orange deal are thin on the ground for now. More information will be published by the ACM as it becomes available.
It appears to end a months-long battle with Bathurst, which has offered free land on Mount Panorama for the development as recently as this week. It's unclear if lobbying will continue.
Preliminary design plans for a proposed "Centre of Excellence" in Orange included a restaurant, public sports fields, onsite function centre, vet clinic, rehoming facilities, pet shop, and offices. Earliest timeline for completion is 2025.
Construction costs are estimated at about $15 million. The NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners & Trainers Association (GBOTA) says it "could" inject $20 million into the Orange economy each year. This figure has been disputed by opponents to the development.
The abandoned site off Bathurst Road was revealed as the preferred location in February. The former sports precinct on the Northern Distributor, a block adjacent to Orange Airport, and Towac Park were also explored.
"The priority will be the track itself and being the safest and best designed in the world. It will be built with the latest technology in regards to safety and welfare," then-CEO of GBOTA Allan Hilzinger told ACM in March.
Concerns over ethics of dog racing, fairness of taking the track from Bathurst, and suitability of the trotting track - which has been previously earmarked for dirt bike riding - have been flagged.
"It's a dying industry, literally," former councillor Neil Jones told ACM to the vote.
"This talk of a 'Centre of Excellence' is nonsense. It'll be a 'Centre of Excellence' for gambling and animal suffering .... That's the reality of the industry. It's awful, and we shouldn't be part of it."
The decision to hold council deliberations in a meeting closed to the public was also criticised by residents and some councillors, including Tony Mileto and Steve Peterson.
Greyhounds last raced in Orange in 2004 at Wade Park. Destruction of Kennerson Park in Bathurst last year due to flooding pushed GBOTA to search for a replacement in the Central West.
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