Tower set back

By KIREN THANDI

COFFS HARBOUR'S Towers of Strength may have suffered a blow on Friday, but by no means have they become weakened.

While the State Government has rejected a $40,000 grant to help fund the towers, the parties involved are looking at new avenues to fund their plight.

Few would understand the need for the towers more than Coffs Harbour City Council's (CHCC) Senior Lifeguard, Greg Hackfath.

"It's a setback; the project is vitally important to the area," Mr Hackfath said.

"Surveillance is the key to preventing accidents, and the towers will make surveillance so much easier."

Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour Daybreak Towers of Strength co-ordinator Loretta Rigby summed up everyone's views upon hearing of the State Government's rejection:

"Disappointed; very disappointed," she told the Coffs Coast Advocate yesterday afternoon.

"If they can give to Port Macquarie, why not Coffs Harbour? We deserve the same opportunities."

However, the set back does not mean give up.

"We'll be appealing, we're not sitting still on this one," she said.

Ms Rigby said that Rotary was also preparing an application for Federal funding.

Coffs Harbour mayor Cr Keith Rhoades was perplexed why, once again, Coffs Harbour had missed out on State funding.

"We keep getting rejected on all our applications... it's such a worthwhile cause," he said.

Cr Rhoades said the State Government seems to 'switch off' when it comes to the Coffs Harbour area, citing the RTA ignoring the community's wishes over the highway as an example.

"Now a grassroots campaign to provide facilities that could help save lives has been turned down by Sydney bureaucrats," he said.

"Council has put their bit in, so has the community," Cr Rhoades said, asking why the State Government couldn't do their bit.

Cr Rhoades said as well as the new applications, the council would be looking to their own budget to see if they could provide more funding.

Which is exactly what the member for Coffs Harbour, Mr Andrew Fraser, who has also been supporting the towers, said the council should be doing.

Mr Fraser said that revenue raised from the council's caravan parks, which are on public recreation reserves, was intended to be used to maintain and improve those reserves to the public benefit.

While he commends the council on improving the facilities within the boundaries of the caravan park, he believes they are also under the dedication of the reserves.

Mr Fraser suggested that the $1.5 million trading profit for the Park Beach, Sawtell and Woolgoolga Reserve Caravan parks recorded in the CHCC 2003/04 Annual Report should be used to fund the Towers.

However, Cr Rhoades said the council spent in excess of that amount to improve the caravan parks, commenting that the State Government charged about $196,000 to run the caravan parks on State land ? which could be invested right back into the community for the Towers of Strength.



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