The future of Lake Ainsworth’s eastern road is in the balance, with today being the deadline for submissions on the current plan to close it.
In a last-ditch attempt to persuade councillors to keep it open, members of Preserving Lake Ainsworth (PLA) have laid over 4350 letters supporting their cause end to end on the town’s basketball court, making a striking impression.
‘How can you call this a minority?’ asked group member Pip Carter.
‘It’s very impressive and something the council should not ignore as people are still continuing to sign,’ he added.
But the apparent popularity of the group’s cause does not appear to have changed the minds of two key councillors at least: Ballina Mayor David Wright and B ward representative and Lennox Head resident Jeff Johnson.
Mayor Wright has accused PLA of overstating the impact of removing the road and associated car parking spaces, telling Echonetdaily previously he was concerned about ‘information that is potentially misleading or incorrect’ being disseminated by the group.
In defending his position in an email to constituents over the weekend, Cr Johnson wrote that council had determined to move ahead with the plan some three years ago and that in the meantime ‘approximately 55 new parking spaces were created at a cost of over $500,000.’
‘There will also be additional parking spaces created when the southern road rehabilitation/infrastructure works are completed as part of the proposal,’ he added.
‘For me, the elephant in the room with the parking issue at Lake Ainsworth is the large number of caravan park cars that use the public parking spaces as a long-term car park during the peak holiday periods (when the public parking is in shortage).
‘Up to 100 parking spaces are currently not available to the public (locals and day trippers) during the peak holiday periods.
No overnight parking
Cr Johnson went on to say that as part of the proposal, he was pushing for the area around the lake ‘to have a no parking zone between 1am and 5am so that all of these parking spots are freed up’.
‘Having a no parking zone between 1am and 5am is quite common in popular areas to ensure there is no overnight camping and that public parking spaces are available during peak holiday/weekend periods, he added.
‘Once the up-to 100 caravan park cars are no longer there, I see this whole proposal as a win-win: those that want a safe, family friendly park along the eastern foreshore will be able to walk down there to enjoy that area; and all the parking spaces along the southern road next to the lake will be available for those who just want to park and jump straight into the water (including dedicated disabled parking places which currently don’t exist).
‘It’s a real shame that this issue has caused such friction within the Lennox and wider community with many people simply not talking about it in order to not get dragged into a heated and often polarised argument,’ Cr Johnson said.