Letter to the Editor: Upgrade the Foreshores how the community wants

DEAR News Of The Area,

I WRITE to express my concern and disappointment at the decision of Ministers Ron Hoenig and Steve Kamper to offer support to proceed with the proposed upgrade to the foreshores area of Coffs Harbour Jetty.

This decision is not what the community wants for the area.

To date, it is my contention that the closed line of questions in any surveys surrounding the public’s interest in a proposal for accommodation east of the railway line has led to an outcome whereby officials are able to state the plan has public support.

As a local of some 70 years I have witnessed the changes in usage of the area from semi-industrial including log yards, a working jetty, steam and electric trains supporting the jetty workings, fuel storage tanks and distribution centre, multiple banana packing sheds, rail freight distribution buildings and even the relocation of the fishing co-op.

As these businesses have disappeared the land use has been substantially replaced with open areas and car parking.

Similarly, public access and usage of this area has witnessed a dramatic increase.

The town and surrounding areas population has increased correspondingly as has tourist traffic.

The stunning attractiveness of the Jetty area has remained, in fact increased in appeal with the loss of commercial activities highlighted by the recently opened upgraded boat ramp, a stark contrast to the days of my adulthood when no ramp existed at all, evidence of the dramatic growth of usage of this area and evidence of the need to think ahead, not just providing a short term fix at the expense of future generations.

People I speak to, be they local or visitor, all agree the area needs an upgrade but that upgrade needs to be what the community actually want, not an outcome construed by a purpose designed consultation questionnaire.

Most are happy to wait and get an outcome they actually want rather than forge ahead with a short sighted bureaucratic induced outcome.

It should be remembered much of the initial development of this area was by community assisted projects including the building of the yacht club (volunteers), building of the original boat ramp (volunteers), building of the original picnic shelters along the beachfront (combined volunteers from community groups and recently erected shelters by volunteers from a local community group (Rotary from memory).

I urge the government reconsider its support, leave the subtle references to future restoration to the jetty proper as a separate issue and not linked to Council’s stance on the foreshore proposal.

Look at areas such as Port Macquarie and Newcastle where foreshore developments have left large tracts of open space for all the community to enjoy into the future.

The area is unique.

Let it be enjoyed by all.

Coffs Harbour.

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