Cricket, bikes and tennis will give way to arts and culture
By DAVID MOASE
THE details are sparse but the plans are clear ? Brelsford Park is set to become the city's main cultural precinct.
For many years the centre of organised sporting activity, the park will be transformed into a passive recreation area and the home to a senior citizens/multi use centre, regional art gallery and library, and an 800-seat performance centre.
Buildings will occupy 20 per cent of the park, which will also feature a village green, performance stage, large grassed areas and a water feature.
The playground on the Earl Street side of the park will remain and be enhanced.
Existing sporting facilities ? the tennis courts, cricket oval and cycling track ? will be rebuilt in other parts of the city as part of the project, which is expected to be complete by 2011.
Estimated cost of the transformation is $33 million.
Coffs Harbour City Council this week voted to release its concept plan for the park and to put it on display for public comment for the next two months.
Mayor Cr Keith Rhoades said the redesigned park would help make the city centre a more livable area.
"By creating a true city park with a village green, walk and cycleways, picnic areas, an open-air theatre, water features and a playground, we're making the city centre a more desirable place to live," he said.
"It will also add to the vibrancy of the area for businesses and contribute a great deal to the well-being of the wider community.
"Combining this space with a much-needed cultural precinct will put Coffs Harbour on the map by improving the regional image of the city as a mature and contemporary metropolitan area."
The release of the concept plan follows a consultation process involving current and potential users of Brelsford Park.
Precise details of the proposed buildings are not included in the plan ? although it does show their footprints ? and Cr Ian Hogbin said this was a deliberate move.
"We don't want to get into details about the building plans at this stage," he said.
"We are asking the community, do they want to see Brelsford Park have a use that takes this city forward.
"When we know what the community would like to see, we can have further consultation about the types of buildings."
Building work on the senior citizens/multi use centre is expected to start next year, with the council voting on Thursday to enable general manager Mark Ferguson to proceed with the design of the building while the consultation process continues.
Coffs Harbour Senior Citizens Club Inc honorary secretary Isabel Murphy said the site of the proposed centre, near the corner of Albany and Curacoa streets, was not the club's first choice but they were excited the long-promised project was closer to going ahead.
"We have to concede the council is looking at what Coffs Harbour will be like in the next 15-20 years and that they know what they are talking about this time," she said.
"I have not heard any adverse criticism about the proposal at all."
Concerns that the centre would be too far from the city centre and bus routes, making it difficult to access for older users, have been countered by survey results that show more than 85 per cent of users are likely to travel there by car.
The idea of moving the council administration centre to the park failed to gain support during the consultation process and is not part of the concept plan, although space is available to include another building should public opinion change.