Byron Shire Council is continuing to work with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) on contamination investigations on Butler Street Reserve in Byron Bay with an extension of the investigation to focus on PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).
Butler Street Reserve closed in July 2019 when work on the Byron Bay bypass started and at that time it was hoped it would reopen with the bypass.
As the reserve is built on an old landfill and is identified as a contaminated site, Council, under the direction of the EPA, used that time to do several rounds of testing to determine the extent and type of contamination, as well as any risk it may pose.
“This testing is still ongoing and unfortunately this means the Butler Street Reserve is closed until we get those results and approval from the EPA for an Environmental Management Plan,” Byron Shire Council’s Acting Director Infrastructure Services, Phil Warner, said.
“While our intention is to be able to be return the Reserve to community use for recreation, car parking and markets, it is important to acknowledge that this is an active contamination investigation that has not reached its conclusion,” said Mr Warner.
In the meantime, Council is planning for a number of possible eventualities, depending on the outcome of the investigations.
Council is undertaking site design for the Farmers Market to return to the Reserve in the hope that this can happen once the investigation is complete, and seeking community feedback on a proposal to permanently relocate the monthly Byron Community Market in and around the rail precinct in the centre of town, rather than back to the Reserve.
“I’m sure some people will be asking why we are looking to put one market back on the Reserve but not the other,” Mr Warner said.
“Our hope is that the future use of Butler Street Reserve for a public recreation space, carpark and market site will hopefully be achievable if the site is managed under an Environmental Management Plan endorsed by the EPA – which we are in the process of developing now,” Mr Warner said.
“What we do know is while the future use of the Reserve needs resolution, that the use of the whole site may not be possible into the future.
The space available for formalised activity may need to be smaller, which is why we still see it as a possibility for the Farmers Market, which has approximately 80 stalls, and not the Byron Community Market of 300 stalls.”
There are still many unknowns regarding the future of the site, including a timeframe for an Environmental Management Plan to be completed and approved by the EPA.
“Getting Butler Street Reserve operational again for community use is a high priority for Council and we are doing everything we can within our control to get to that point,” he said.