Koala on cue in Pioneer Park

Koala sighted in Coffs Harbour's Pioneer Park.
Koala sighted in Coffs Harbour's Pioneer Park. Trevor Veale

ANY doubts about the value of trees in Pioneer Park as koala habitat have been laid to rest on the eve of discussions about the park's future at tomorrow's Coffs Harbour City Council meeting.

Visitors to the CBD were on Monday entranced by the sight of a koala feeding in the park's trees.

Following last Wednesday's bid to save the park, Cr Sally Townley will present a notice of motion tomorrow that using the park as a CBD bypass road will only be a temporary measure to enable construction work in Gordon St next year.

Her motion is for the park be returned to permanent open space at the conclusion of the work.

The construction work, which is planned to include new traffic lights and work on footpaths and roadways to reduce flooding, has been endorsed by the council as part of its approval for the Gowings redevelopment.

Council staff have said a group of five mature flooded-gum trees in the south-eastern corner of the site would be retained under the permanent bypass road plan.

Also on tomorrow's agenda is a community engagement program to seek feedback on the proposed special rate variations in 2015 and 2016.

The council is seeking community approval for the next two-thirds of its planned three-year cumulative 25.73% rate increase.

The special rate variation began this year, with a 7.9% increase approved by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, but the following two years, with proposed rises of 8.14% and 7.75%, have not yet been approved by IPART.

On the agenda also is the ongoing matter of just compensation to elderly residents Barry and Norma Mackay over 2 ha of their land that council acquired as an easement for the Bennetts Rd flood retention basin in West Coffs Harbour.

In December, 2013, the councillors voted for staff to negotiate to buy the Mackays' land outright and, in April this year, the councillors set a four-month time limit for achieving "satisfactory, fair and just compensation".

Cathy Mackay, representing her parents in the matter, said there had been no genuine negotiation and the sum the council had offered was far below that paid to neighbouring landholders.

Council staff said the negotiations were not successful and the parties remained an insurmountable distance apart. They said there was a risk of unfunded liabilities if council proceeded with the purchase, which could set a precedent for the other three affected landholders in Bennetts Rd.

Tomorrow's agenda also includes the community capital infrastructure program for 2014-15; reviews of the developer contributions plans for the Moonee release area, Hearnes Lake/Sandy beach release area and the open space and administration levy; and a tender for consultancy services to support the Transformation to Sustainability (T2S) program.



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