Has Coffs lost its ?harbour??
By DAVID MOASE
IF THE NSW Government of Neville Wran had its way back in 1983, the harbour would now be a very different place.
Boat owners would be using a 360-berth marina; tourists could choose from a hotel, motel, apartments or an eight-
storey, 400-room hotel and conference centre on Corambirra Point, and people would be living in townhouses between the railway line and Jordan Esplanade.
While we can all give thanks that such overdevelopment did not go ahead, the words of Mr Wran and the shire president of those days, Cr John Smith, still apply to today's foreshores.
"There is a substantial amount of undeveloped land around the port, much of it quite unattractive, yet the port has the potential for development into one of the State's leading tourist attractions," the Advocate records the Premier as saying.
"The port and its environs are of critical importance to Coffs Harbour and the plan envisages full and free access by the public to the reserves, beaches, marinas, the jetty and scenic points."
Cr Smith said the harbour needed an 'uplift' and a development such as this would put the 'harbour' back in the name Coffs Harbour.
Since then, a number of plans and strategies have been proposed to give the foreshores that 'uplift' but none have achieved lift-off.
What has not changed is the recognition that something needs to be done to turn the harbour into an attractive 'front door' to the city.
After last year's ambitious $70 million-plus plan failed to gain widespread support, Coffs Harbour City Council formed stakeholder groups to discuss the issues involved and work towards the release of a comprehensive masterplan in mid 2005.
"The council's view of the harbour and surrounds is that it is one of our strongest assests," the council's general manager Mark Ferguson said.
"It has the ability, within a framework of sustainability, to provide significant advantage to the city, not only economically, but environmentally and socially as well.
"We are a city experi- encing rapid growth, as well as receiving 1.1 million visitors a year. Both residents and visitors have basic expectations with regard to the environment, facilities and services that should be made available to them.
"The harbour is not currently fulfilling its po- tential in this regard."
Next Saturday: the Harbour Plan revisited - what went wrong?