A light at end of Penneshaw Sculpture Trail debate

TRAIL OPEN: Mayor Peter Clements, Senator Anne Ruston, Betty McAdam, Jayne Bates, Federal Member Rebekah Sharkie and Sarah Strong-Law at the official opening in 2018.
TRAIL OPEN: Mayor Peter Clements, Senator Anne Ruston, Betty McAdam, Jayne Bates, Federal Member Rebekah Sharkie and Sarah Strong-Law at the official opening in 2018.

A special meeting held by the Kangaroo Island Council has resulted in renewed negotiations and a provision for future funding for the Penneshaw Sculpture Trail.

The decision comes after the Council said they were dissatisfied with the current lease under which the Penneshaw Progress Association (PPA) was able to fund the management and maintenance of the trail through the sale of solar generated power to the Council.

The PPA originally purchased more than $50,000 worth of solar panels for this purpose from the council in 2017 with funding they received from the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF).

The meeting, held on Wednesday February 17, was opened with a speech by Mayor Michael Pengilly in which he described the existing Memorandum of Understanding, as a "grossly deficient, poorly written and confused document which has not achieved and does not achieve what is understood to have been the objectives of the parties."

The Mayor said the current arrangement, which was signed off by the previous council CEO, saw the PPA operate in the complex and highly regulated 'electricity market' as a retailer of electricity to the Council.

"This is a role that the PPA, with the benefit of hindsight, has agreed was never intended or envisaged for it and one which it is not skilled or resourced to do," he said.

Penneshaw Progress Association president Betty McAdam said that despite the previously adversarial language and miscommunication between council and the PPA, she was confident a solution could be reached.

"I am very optimistic now that with a fair lease that the sculpture trail's future will be assured," she said.

Ms McAdam explained that the purchase of the solar panels was made to fund the ongoing cost of the trail and any agreement would need to refund the cost of the panels. "The whole idea [of the BBRF grant] was that there would be no financial burden on the council or the PPA to maintain the trail," she said.

"So if that money comes back to us to be spent exclusively on the trail, which is of course what we do ... then there is not a problem for the grant fund." The PPA say they had previously suggested compensation in the mid $35,000 - but were refused.