By BELINDA SCOTT
IAN Ovens says the State Rail Authority's (SRA) failure to honour agreements on land near the Jetty level crossing may mean a serious loss for the city of Coffs Harbour.
The large site is the Jetty business area's largest unofficial parking lot.
The chairman of Coffs Harbour City Council's City Business Units, Cr Ovens, said the council had been talking to the SRA for more than three years, hoping to acquire the site as part of a government-to-government transfer of a public area, but now would have to compete in open tender for the land. Tenders close on December 22.
"We were told nothing would happen on the land until the SRA spoke to us, but that did not occur and now we are in the position of an open tender with everyone in the market place, so it comes down to dollars and the city is not wealthy," Cr Ovens said. "The citizens of Coffs Harbour could lose out once again."
The long, narrow 5099sq.m site, currently publicly-owned land held by the SRA, stretches from the Marina Drive level crossing southwards along the western side of the North Coast rail line, east of the Jetty Strip shops. It provides a book-end to the site now occupied by Ocean Gem apartments.
Zoned 3G mixed business, the land is being advertised through Coffs Harbour Jetty-based real estate agency Nolan and Partners.
The 3G zoning provides for a very wide range of uses of the site, including multi-unit housing, shops, motels, restaurants, offices or tourist facilities.
Jetty Strip businesspeople said yesterday the land provided the only all-day parking available for staff and was heavily used for restaurant parking at night, as well as during the Sunday markets and in the busy summer holiday period.
Harbour Drive and the eastern end of Collingwood Street has two-hour daytime parking and the Jetty Village outdoor carpark is mainly one-hour parking, with some 30-minute slots and the Jetty Village basement car park is closed at night.
The joint owner of Scoffs Restaurant, Mal Mason; the owner of The Log Shack, Paul Guthrie; the manager of Coopers Surf Shop, Garth Mackie; the owner of Snipit hair salon, Natalie Helding; and the owner of Jetty Dive, Mike Davey, all said yesterday they wanted to see the council buy the land to retain it for parking.
Mr Mason said he had lobbied various councillors for seven years over the issue and he thought it strange the land had come on to the market just after consultants on the new Harbourside Plan had agreed with Jetty business representatives that there was no other land suitable for car parking, with tenders to close on the sale before the consultants were due to finish their work.
He said losing the railway land for parking would have a severe effect on restaurants in the short term and could mean the closure of restaurants in the longer term.