The outcomes of a recent meeting held between stakeholders and NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust (NSWCHPT) over management of the Terrace Reserve caravan park in Brunswick Heads has been described completely differently by progress association and chamber of commerce members.
While perennial activists Patricia Warren and Michele Grant again unloaded on mayor Simon Richardson’s leadership and chairing of the meeting (see letters, page 11), the Brunswick Heads Progress Association (BHPA) have also raised their concerns over how the meeting was run and its outcomes.
Yet Zac Tooth, representing the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce, holds a different view. He told Echonetdaily ‘It was a positive for us, though it did get a little hostile at one stage.’
He said, ‘I thought the meeting was well handled by the mayor and was positive.’
Meanwhile BHPA secretary Leigh Rees said the meeting, which media was not invited to, was ‘vague’ and criticised it for a ‘lack of a formal agenda.’
She was also alarmed at the concept plans for the contentious Terrace Reserve caravan park, which contains a historical WWI memorial park planted around 100 years ago.
The NSW government-run NSWCHPT have stated their intention to develop and formalise camping around the Cypress Norfolk Pines, despite them being in poor health and it being opposed by some residents.
Other issues raised from the meeting, says Rees, include, ‘disinterest shown by the Councillors present,’ and ‘NSWCHPT’s land grab, which the mayor sees as inevitable’.
According to Rees, community reps were ‘cherry picked’ and given 36 hours notice for the meeting.
‘It was called to discuss the arborist’s assessment of southern district of Terrace Reserve, the revised plans of management (PoM) concept plans based on the findings of the arborist’s assessment and to walk around the park to ground truth the Revised PoM Concept Plans.’
She said, ‘As the arborist was not present, we had to accept the NSWCHPT representative’s interpretation.’
‘However, it was obvious that their plans to transfer permanent residents to the park was not viable because of potential damage to the root systems of the memorial pines in the Remembrance Park. They are pushing for 24/7 “primitif” camping there. This is still unacceptable because it is a public Remembrance Park.’
‘Although the NSWCHPT representative maintained they would aim for a ten metre setback along the foreshore, Michelle Grant is correct in saying that he added, “In some areas the path will be squeezed to a three metre setback, owing to lack of space or issues with relocation which have yet to be resolved”.’
‘So the 10 metre setback is still arbitrary. They asserted that they would maintain the current pines and replace them when necessary. We were also told a Remembrance garden, seat and plaque to commemorate the WW1 soldiers would be created.
‘The conversations relating to the permanent residents were punctuated with so many “ifs” and “buts” that they became meaningless. Why didn’t NSWCHPT meet with the permanent residents prior to the meeting? Everyone left with a vague understanding that there would be two precincts for permanent residents, one at the entrance to the park on the northern side, and another along the river foreshore, approximately nine cabins, where they are now, but moved back “where possible”.’
And while Rees says that BHPA’s position on the issue is independent to Ms Warren and Grant, she agreed with them over ‘the mayor’s impatience with those who questioned his actions.’
Echonetdaily asked the mayor what were the meeting outcomes and if he was ‘upset with community members who attended the meeting? If so, why?’
He replied, ‘There is little point in responding to [Warren and Grant’s] letters – the language and opinion is so biased it is ridiculous.’
‘I believe the meeting was generally cordial and respectful among all bar one participant and all invited members: council staff, councillors, permanent residents, adjoining neighbours, the chamber and progress association representatives were present. NCHP will present a proposed plan of management shortly – it should guarantee more public access along the foreshore than required, permanent residents off the creek banks, the protection of the cypress trees and sorting camping in the southern end of Terrace as practiced currently.’
Opposed to genuine community consultation
Yet Rees claims NSWCHPT have been vague, secretive and opposed to genuine community consultation, ‘Unlike the NSW Crown Lands Maritime department which has been transparent in its dealings with community.’
‘The NSW Crown Lands Maritime department has sent the minutes of all meetings to all groups present and made huge adjustments to accommodate community interests. The Crown Lands Holiday Parks should take note and do likewise. We are still in the dark as to what they actually intend.’
Meanwhile Zac Tooth from the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce told Echonetdaily he ‘had a good sense NSWCHPT were responding to community issues, and am happy with how it went.’
When asked if he was concerned about the land transfer issue, he replied, ‘That ship saled a long time ago.’
As for the memorial park, he said he wasn’t concerned about 24/7 camping. ‘What was presented there wasn’t a change to the status quo,’ he said. ‘There will be no permanent additions to that area’, he added.
‘But there is detail around the caravan area to the east is yet to be defined.’
After a 20-year community-led struggle against successive government-run organisations, NSWCHPT were given support of the Greens majority council at the June 22 meeting to proceed with putting plans of management on public exhibition for two other Bruns parks, the Massey Greene and Ferry Reserve. The Greens copped flak from fellow councillors and the community, owing to them acting without independent legal advice.
At the time, mayor Richardson shared the view of conservative councillor Alan Hunter and said there was no point in defending council’s long held position to call on NSWCHPT to produce satisfactory boundaries.
Echonetdaily understands that decision will enable a large transfer of land from council to state government control.