DON?T SQUEEZE US OUT
By BELINDA F SCOTT
DIRECTORS and management of Coffs Harbour's Pet Porpoise Pool are wondering why the pool has been ignored in the Harbourside Project Concepts.
Not only is the Pet Porpoise Pool one of only two places licensed to exhibit dolphins in Australia, it is acknowledged as a linchpin of Coffs Harbour tourism and has been an important part of the Jetty precinct since Hec Goodall established it in 1968.
The Pet Porpoise Pool's business manager, Paige Sinclair, said market research showed 10 per cent of people holidaying in Coffs Harbour chose the town because they wanted to visit the Pet Porpoise Pool.
But concept documents for the harbourside precinct ignore it.
Plans for the future improvement of the attraction depend on its ability to expand into the current Jetty Oval site, with a buffer zone between the 24-hour pool operation and high-density Jetty housing.
The pool is currently buffered by Englands Park and the Jetty Oval, both slated for possible medium to high density residential development in the harbourside concept documents.
These documents also identify the development of the two parks as a principal source of funding for the harbourside project.
"It would seem much of the work we have put in with council and the Lands Department over the last five years has been disregarded," said the chairman of the Pet Porpoise Pool's Board of Directors and a foundation shareholder, John Ward.
"Coffs Harbour is very fortunate to have a marine dolphin park in the centre of town.
"It is a bit disappointing when governments launch guidelines for the harbour which don't even acknowledge our existence.
"We have worked hard to lift the standard, we have plans to upgrade our displays but we need to expand to be sustainable."
In 2005 Coffs Harbour City Council endorsed a multi-million dollar development plan for the Pet Porpoise Pool' as 'representing the type of integrated tourist facility that Council would encourage' but Mr Ward said they had never received a piece of paper signing off on them gaining access to extra land on the oval.
The Pet Porpoise Pool's founder, Hec Goodall, who has resigned from the board, said yesterday the Lands Department had been prepared to lease the oval land to the Porpoise Pool in 2005.
He blamed the 'impractical' plan and the lack of information provided to council by the pool's management for that leasing proposal failing to progress.