Coffs rallies to save open space
ANGRY Coffs Harbour residents have rallied en masse to send out an SOS to keep their public green spaces.
The latest Save Our Open Spaces rally drew more than 100 people to Brelsford Park yesterday.
Those in attendance were keen to deliver a message to the council that they are as determined as ever to ensure a mass sell-off of public land doesn’t happen.
The rally came on the heels of a public backlash which forced the council to extend until last Friday the exhibition period for its controversial draft Open Space Strategy.
Protestors were yesterday urged to maintain their lobbying of councillors and their campaign had the backing of the member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, and city councillor Rodney Degens.
One of the rally organisers, Peter O’Brien, said the draft strategy had identified some 19 open spaces to be sold across the city.
“While the draft Open Space Strategy outlines how parks and open spaces should be developed, it also contains a group of small local blocks deemed to be surplus to council’s needs, ineffective, underperforming or a maintenance burden,” Mr O’Brien, who is worried about the woodland near his Robert Garrett Street home, said.
“We’re making the point that for each individual community where these open spaces exist, having that open space is one of the reasons people choose to live there.
“If you sell all the spaces off now, what is the incentive for a developer to set aside land if the council decides at a later date to cash up?
“It’s a cascading effect – you set a precedent now for council to take a 6a recreational space and turn it into a 2a medium high density by re-zoning it.”
Mr O’Brien said concerned residents need to keep emailing their protests to councillors and the general manager, Stephen Sawtell.
“We hope the councillors will question aspects of the strategy and not adopt it in its current form,” he said.
“We need to stop the council from developing, developing, developing and we hope as many people as possible will attend the council chambers when the matter comes up for debate.”
No date has been set for the Draft Open Pace Strategy to come before Council.