She has been a teacher, Byron Shire Councillor, Friends of the Library member and, for many years, secretary of Bangalow Progress Association.
But at 83, Jenny Coman says she doesn’t need any excuse to retire from public life.
‘There’s quite a bit of work involved you know,’ says the public defender and lover of Bangalow’s heritage.
But, with long-time president Tony Hart also moving on, there are going to be some big shoes to fill in the small town.
‘If I can persuade someone younger to do it, that’d be great – and I’ve got someone in mind, who’s considering it,’ she told Echonetdaily.
That’s said, new members are very welcome – especially in a year when Bangalow is facing several large potential developments, the prospect of paid parking and a new masterplan for the village.
Asked about her concerns for the future, Ms Coman said there were ‘some people who’ve taken up residence around Bangalow [who] have plenty of money and they want to exploit it. ‘
‘Bangalow is popular because it’s unique, really. It still retains its character of a little heritage country village and people think “oh, that’s great, we can make money out of this”, ’ she said.
‘But when that happens – if developments like the one proposed again for 9 Station Street* goes ahead – that character will go, Bangalow’s attractiveness will go, and I suppose those people don’t really care. I think in the end it’s all about greed, unfortunately.
Ms Coman is also critical of the timing of Byron Shire Council’s masterplan process for Bangalow.
‘That really worries me, because we were well on the way to having our DCP (Development Control Plan) revised and upgraded and made much stronger, to keep these heritage characteristics in Bangalow. That got temporarily shelved while the masterplan process, so called, was going ahead. Consequently there’s very little prescriptiveness in the DCP, which means that a developer can take [council] to court, as happened last time with 9 Station Street.
‘We were a bit fortunate last time, as there were good grounds for refusing the development, but that might not necessarily happen a second time.’
Another thorn in the side of Ms Coman – and many residents of Bangalow – is a massive planned ‘food precinct’ (read industrial estate) opposite the existing industrial estate on Lismore Road.
‘That’s a horror – that would just wreck Bangalow completely. Over 500 car spaces. What’s it all about? The traffic would be horrific from that. Gradually, I imagine, there’d be development all along that road and, again, Bangalow’s character would go.
‘Jan Hulbert, who’s a fifth generation Bangalow resident always says, “why did you come to Bangalow in the first place – why did you want to live here?”’
‘We want to live here because we love the place the way it is. We’ve said there will be development, of course there will, and there are already new estates… that haven’t all been completely developed.
‘But what we want is development that is complementary to Bangalow’s historic character. That’s what we love about it. We’d like to keep Bangalow very much the way it is.’
The Bangalow Progress Association’s Annual General Meeting is at 6pm on Thursday July 6 at Heritage House, Deacon Street, Bangalow. All welcome.