Byron shire mayor Simon Richardson has come out in support of a decision to bite into beach side parkland to create extra car parking spaces, despite having voted against the move in council.
Cr Richardson has taken the unusual step of issuing an open letter to Byron Bay resident and apartment block manager Jenny McIntyre, who went public over the move that will pave some existing car parking spaces and create 15 additional paved spaces.
Ms McIntyre, one of a number of local objectors to the move, told The Echo on September 2 that residents were concerned about ‘substantial breaches’ and ‘lack of consultation’ over the plan to pave part of Denning Park adjacent to Middleton Street on the Byron Bay foreshore.
The group has since commenced legal action against the council, as a result of which the mayor said he was unable to answer a list of questions they had submitted to him.
Despite having voted against the motion, the mayor has come out swinging against the residents’ claims.
He described the tone of their letter to him as ‘vitriol’, which he said might have been better directed at ‘those who actually supported [the proposal]’.
Cr Richardson said that ‘in essence, what council is doing is turning a potholed, ineffective and tired carpark, which seemed to attract those seeking an inefficient, uncared-for and tired area in which to park, into a properly constructed one that will be maintained and timed.’
‘This may perhaps allow for those seeking a dark, unmanaged area to move elsewhere, making the area more safe [sic] rather than less. Part of this upgrade is adding a small slice of the park to add another row of parking and the claim that the only reason for it is 15 more spaces and therefore more dollars is untrue,’ the mayor said.
Cr Richardson added that as the car park was on crown land,’nothing from this carpark will go into council’s coffers’, adding that all money raised be spent on crown land projects.
He said that the situation was the same as at main beach car park, where the money ‘stays in the crown reserve trust.’
‘I don’t believe these extra 15 spaces will be the answer to all your parking problems in Byron and I don’t believe anyone in their right mind would remotely believe so.
‘Rangers have not recorded or received any substantial amount of calls or complaints about anti social behaviour in this area and they patrol over most of the night. The police also have not reported to council that this area is an anti-social hotspot,’ Cr Richardson said.
In her letter to the mayor, Ms McIntyre said ‘everyone is fully booked this September and the reaction from all the guests around us has been unbelievable…the dismay, the sadness, the now lack of parkland the kids could safely play in front of our complexes, and the impending noise levels and pollution is now a concern stressed by these guests as they eat, play, relax in this once sacred remaining beachfront parkland so close to town.’