The planned closure of an access road to Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head sparked weekend protests, with residents claiming they were not ‘sufficiently notified or given a choice.’ As part of the proposal by Ballina Shire Council, a new park is planned.
Becky Gee from the Lake Ainsworth community group says ‘more than 95 per cent of 595 doors knocked don’t want the end of Pacific Parade, the “eastern access road” to no longer be accessible by vehicles from the life saving club to the Leisure Centre.’
Another resident, Simon Jones, told The Echo that Ballina Council agreed at the last minute to delay works but have yet to indicate how long that delay would last.
He says Preserving Lake Ainsworth Incorporated, comprising locals, has instructed a Ballina law firm to act on its behalf.
Gee says, ‘Thousands of cars a week will be re-routed along the caravan park, putting at risk kids who cross over there regularly. The cars will travel further up the dirt road to find a carpark through the turtle colony.’
Another plan is to remove eight established Melaleuca trees, a decision which Jones says came with little consolation with the community.
Cr Jeff Johnson
But one Ballina councillor in favour of the road closure and the creation of a park is independent Jeff Johnson.
The former Greens councillor told The Echo it was his belief the vast majority of the Lennox Head community want a ‘safe, car-free park.’
As for the tree removal, he said Essential Energy don’t want to put the power lines underground, so some trees will need to be removed.
‘My preference is that the trees remain, but council arborists – and other arborists – say that some have to be removed. I have asked staff to keep as many as possible.’
Cr Johnson says the group represented a small percentage of around 8,000 in the Lennox community who ‘overwhelmingly want the park’.
‘This has been debated for two to three years by successive councils.
‘Once it has been created and measures put in place I believe that they will embrace the park… there’s also a mythbusters factsheet on Council’s website – people have been misled.’