IS THE HARBOUR PLAN HIJACKING THE ELECTION?
By CRAIG McTEAR
COFFS HARBOUR'S mayor appears out of step with community passions over the Jetty plans.
Cr Keith Rhoades, who is also an independent candidate for Coffs Harbour at next month's State election, has refused to be drawn on whether he supports the retention of Englands Park and Jetty Oval as public open space.
As a result, the mayor was heckled by many of the estimated 700 people at Wednesday night's public meeting at the Coffs Ex-Services Club, called to discuss the Harbourside Project Concepts.
In a gathering which had all the hallmarks of a political rally, Cr Rhoades said there were still 13 days to go until the close of public submissions, and it was quite possible no proposals would come forward to develop Englands Park or Jetty Oval.
Cr Rhoades described these land parcels as assets, but he said he was leaving his 'options open' until all comments were in. However, he said he remained opposed to permanent residential/tourist accommodation east of the rail line.
Nationals MP for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, Labor candidate David Kennedy and Greens candidate Rodney Degens all spoke against development of Englands Park and Jetty Oval.
Cr Rhoades was also jeered when he said he did not support the foreshores dunal vegetation in its current form.
He argued for the establishment of 'well-protected alleyways' or viewing corridors through this vegetation, so women in particular could 'enjoy a walk on the foreshores without feeling threatened'.
He also said any development at the Jetty would have to take into account rising sea levels, and the State and Federal governments should share dredging and maintenance costs at the harbour.
Mr Degens wanted to see the Jetty precinct remain 'in its present state', for the dunes to be protected and enhanced, for areas of Aboriginal cultural significance to be respected, and for the State Government to be responsible for harbour dredging and maintenance.
Mr Kennedy said future development in Coffs Harbour needed to take into account rising sea levels and coastal inundation, the State Government should fund harbour dredging and maintenance, and for dunal vegetation to be preserved.
He and Mr Degens also opposed accommodation development east of the rail line.
Mr Fraser said Coffs Harbour did not want, or need, high-rise development on Jetty Oval or Englands Park, and any sell-off of these areas must be stopped.
He also said the concept plan should be rejected.
"A truly representative community committee needs to be formed to decide the level of commercial development such as shops, kiosks, restaurants and other port facilities," Mr Fraser said.
The meeting resolved unanimously to appoint a community committee to guide council on all future developments at the Jetty.