PROTEST: Some of the people who rallied on Wednesday against putting a road through Pioneer Park.
PROTEST: Some of the people who rallied on Wednesday against putting a road through Pioneer Park.

Angry residents determined to save park

FAILURE to recognise the city's history and anger at losing a central green space were among reasons which propelled more than 100 people to protest against Coffs Harbour City Council plans to put a road through Pioneer Park.

They gathered at short notice on Wednesday to voice their objections to the plan, which many of the speakers labelled as unnecessary and even dangerous.

Singer Kirsten Mackenzie distributed the words to Big Yellow Taxi, Joni Mitchell's anthem to rampant development and rally-goers sang enthusiastically about "paving paradise to put up a parking lot".

"It's just another bit of Coffs Harbour heritage that is being bulldozed for no good reason," photographer Bruce Thomas said.

"They are just moving the pedestrian problem further down the road a bit and funnelling traffic past the swimming pool and Centrelink, which are already high traffic areas, especially with the addition of Medicare to Centrelink."

Coffs Harbour Arts Council president David Quinn said he believed the proposed traffic diversion was a waste of money and the extra road would make the area even more dangerous for pedestrians.

"The arts council is a tenant of the Mud Huts and the area is always busy and parked out through the day - plus this plan shows a total lack of respect for our history and the reason it was made Pioneer Park," Mr Quinn said.

Cr Nan Cowling was concerned about the risks for pedestrians having to negotiate three road crossings in the short space between the CBD and Coles or the new skate park.

If the bypass road goes ahead, walkers will have to cross Gordon St; the new bypass road and Earl St to do so.

"Why do we have to pick a bit of green space in council control in order to build something?" said retired engineer Ernie Armstrong.

Businessman Chris Bramley said via a letter the council had double standards on koalas, proposing to remove known koala habitat for a road to assist with a corporate project, after having required him to submit a 100-page koala management document for his Pacific Highway motel development, although it did not involve removing any koala feed trees.

Cr Sally Townley said the entire traffic flow in and around the city needed to be studied.

The matter is now expected to be raised at next week's council meeting.



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