A thorny issue arose on Tuesday when Griffith City Council debated plans for a rose garden, which has gone through a considerable budget blowout.
What started as a $124,000 garden has turned into a deluxe $600,000 project featuring shaded seating, interpretive sculptures, grape arbors, and a rill water feature near the visitors centre.
The plan's broadened scope was endorsed "in-principle" by council, with the exceptions of deputy mayor Doug Curran and Councillor Brian Simpson who voted against it.
Councillor Curran said the community response was worrying; the idea had been widely panned as a frivolous waste of ratepayer money.
"I've had a lot of feedback since we moved the original motion, and none of it was positive," Cr Curran said.
"I can't help but wonder how $124,000 project became a $600,000 project."
The original $124,000 budget was approved by council in March last year, before quintupling in size with the most recent draft concept plan.
Cr Curran said there were better ways to spend the money, pointing to the town's deteriorating entrance signs and Lake Wyangan as examples.
"I'm absolutely certain there are other priorities that the community have already expressed and will continue to express," Cr Curran said.
He said the outrage on social media was especially worrying; he claimed he saw one supportive comment out of a hundred negative comments.
But Rose Garden Working Group Chair Dino Zappacosta said it was "all very well" to listen to social media, adding that he had gotten enthusiastic face-to-face feedback from community members.
Councillor Zappacosta said the rose garden would become a welcome addition to cityscape, and it would be a shame if Griffith missed out.
"Right in the heart of the city you're going to have a garden that the visitors to town and the locals will be so enthusiastic about going to see," Cr Zappacosta said.
"It'll be an attraction you cannot replicate anywhere else in the city."
Council ultimately voted for the new plan and will be setting aside another $200,000 in the 2020/21 budget and start searching for a further $300,000 in government grant funding to make up for the shortfall.
Further details about the community rose garden masterplan can be found on the Griffith City Council website.
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