Newly elected mayor Tim Overall has defended his actions as administrator in progressing the Ellerton Drive extension in his first public comments as mayor.
It was announced last week that a tender had been awarded to WBHO Infrastructure to complete the project.
The EDE has proven to be a contentious issue in the decades that it has been in the public consciousness.
This had heated up during the recent council campaign period with some accusing Cr Overall of unethical behaviour in progressing the project instead of waiting until an elected council was in place.
However, speaking after the first council meeting on Wednesday evening, Cr Overall justified his actions as administrator and denied any impropriety.
“The parameters set for administrators were very clear that this was not a caretaker period,” Cr Overall said.
“As administrator you are charged with dealing with matters that would have been considered by the elected council.
“That meant it wasn’t appropriate for an administrator to defer anything contentious to a newly elected council in 18 months time.”
Cr Overall referenced the proposed cemetery on Old Cooma Road along with the EDE as issues where he has come under fire for performing his administrator duties.
He said the community was occasionally misinformed about such issues. The cemetery, he suggested, was not a definitive decision but merely the commencement of a planning approval process.
The EDE though has been the issue where Cr Overall has received the greatest criticism with the Greens running a particularly vocal campaign. Cr Overall believed he had taken appropriate steps to ensure proper process was observed.
“The former council would have considered [the EDE] in 2015 and then it was deferred until around mid-2016 and it came up in the period of administration,” he said.
“I thought it was preferable to not make that decision alone because of its magnitude and public interest and we had an independent determination panel of three administrators.”
According to WBHO work is expected to begin on site in October and managing director Peter Ryan said the company was looking forward to commencing the project.
“Delivering the project safely, and minimising impacts of the works on traffic, the environment and communities, will be our focus from day one,” Mr Ryan said.
“WBHO will also ensure that local industry benefits from the project, with local subcontracting and employment opportunities to be advertised in the coming weeks.”