Slipway works prompt bigger questions over harbour plans
MASTERPLAN: Harbour stakeholders met with State Government minister Kevin Humphries and Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser this week to discuss the future of the slipway and surrounding Crown lands.
PLANS to reopen the Coffs Harbour slipway and remediate the contaminated site have given insight into what the State Government hopes will be the future redevelopment of public lands around the harbour.
Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water Kevin Humphries and Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser announced the slipway would be operated by the Coffs Harbour Fishermen's Coop in a caretaker capacity, early next year, as heavy metal contamination is removed from the site.
Pressed on the future redevelopment of the surrounding Crown lands, the politicians said a master plan covering the public land, around the inner harbour, was being discussed with Roads and Maritime Services.
Foreshore leaseholders remain engaged in protracted lease negotiations with the lands department while in respect to the North Wall, the government is looking at the most cost efficient redesign to stop waves overtopping into the marina and damaging infrastructure.
"I think there have been too many fingers in the pie for too long," Mr Fraser said.
"I think it's high time we actually took ownership and said look this is what we are going to do long-term.
"We have a magnificent area here which is under utilised, I don't want to see it over commercialised, and I want to see commercial development such as hotels, motels and what have you, west of Jordan Esplanade.
"I think we could do a hell of a lot along this strip here to make a promenade that the people of Coffs Harbour would enjoy along with the tourists," he said.
Minister Humphries became involved in discussions about reopening the slipway, two months ago, when approached by the Coffs Harbour Fishermen's Cooperative.
The slipway was closed after the Environment Protection Authority found traces of tributylin, an anti-foulant used on vessels that was banned in 1989, on and submerged below the site.
The local fishing fleet, yachting fraternity, and recreational boat users raised concerns that without the slipway open the harbour was vulnerable to maritime emergencies.
"Basically the government will accept liability for that contamination," Minister Humphries said.
"There is a plan that's being set up to remove that contaminated sediment off-site, that's the first issue that needs to be resolved and I expect that to be resolved next year in the first quarter.
"The second issue here is that we have got aging infrastructure and the fishermen have made it plainly known that they need an upgrade here. And Crown Lands in conjunction with Roads and Maritime will be sitting down with all the users in the harbour to look at what's the best solution there and to come up with an investment package."