AQUAJET may move to jetty
By DAVID MOASE
THE AQUAJET, one of Coffs Harbour's most enduring tourist attractions, may be about to be pulled down, but it's not out yet.
Plans are afoot to see the popular waterslide become part of a major recreational development in Jetty Park.
The waterslide, which has stood near the corner of Park Beach Road and the Pacific Highway since 1980, is to make way for the expansion of Park Beach Plaza shopping facilities.
It will cease operation on February 27, 2005, and then be dismantled.
But it could rise again, along with other attractions at the site, such as putt-putt golf, dry slide, swimming pool and trampoline, at the Pet Porpoise Pool.
Owner Ken Lessells will donate the slide and other attractions ? excluding the go-karts ? to the management of the Pet Porpoise Pool.
He had considered rebuilding and running the attractions himself, but when he decided to sit back and relax instead, he wanted to make sure the giant slide did not disappear.
"I wanted to keep it in town and it would be nice to see it up and running again," Mr Lessells said.
"It has been 27 years of my life and is an important part of Coffs Harbour.
"It was the first waterslide in Australia and was the biggest in the world."
The Pet Porpoise Pool will have 12 months to make use of the Aquajet attractions and, if it fails to do so, Mr Lessells said two local businessmen were interested in buying the slide.
Management of the Pet Porpoise Pool said they did not want to comment at this stage.
Coffs Harbour City Council general manager Mark Ferguson said the council would be keen to see the waterslide find a new home.
"It is a bit of an icon for the city and in some respects it has potentially heritage significance," he said.
"It has been in the city for a long time and the council would support in principle the relocation of it to another site, subject, of course, to it following the development approval process.
"There has to be a proper process of consultation regarding any impacts that might arise from the relocation of the facility.
"We'd be willing to work with local tour operators to pick the best site.
"Ideally, we believe it would link well with the Pet Porpoise Pool facility but ultimately that would be a commercial decision that the Pet Porpoise Pool company would have to make."
If the Aquajet does rise next to or as part of an expanded Pet Porpoise Pool, it may not be the only new attraction in Jetty Park.
Mr Ferguson said the council would look to replan the park in conjunction with any redevelopment at the Pet Porpoise Pool 'to make it more of a tourist park'.
"Any expansion would move into the reserve area and we'd need to have the support of the (State) Government, the Department of Lands and the community," he said.
"In doing that we'd look to cluster it with other facilities that have been mooted down there before, such as the skate park.
"The Pet Porpoise Pool in its own right is iconic for the city and if we can improve its viability in the long term it is really important to the city's future as well."
Park Beach Plaza management was unable to comment on its plans for the Aquajet site.