John Lazarus, Byron Bay
Byron Council misled the public by their press and web statements that the Railway Park status needed to be changed from ‘park’ to ‘general community use’ to facilitate the weekly Sea Shepherd stall, the weekly market and rallies.
The Local Govt Act, and associated legislation, is quite clear that such events can be held under the existing status of ‘park’, and sets out the capacity of ‘park’ to provide licences and leases.
‘Park’ allows a max three consecutive days for events, and a max one-year licence/lease for multiple events, while Council’s proposed General Community Use status allows licences/leases for 365 days a year for 25-year periods, and the construction of buildings.
The Local Govt legislation was sent to Council but, desperate to find something to hang their propaganda on, their only response was that these activities may intrude on the peaceful enjoyment of the public.
The Local Govt Act required the recent public hearing on the proposed change of status from ‘park’, but the hearing was just a front for Council to fulfil their legal obligations, and without any substantive reason other than aspirational statements, the hearings report recommended the change to General Community Use. The spurious report will be coming to Council for a vote by councillors.
In associated news, some of the Masterplan committee wanted the Railway Park grove of cottonwood trees removed, but evidently a compromise was reached where the trees will be retained but sculpted. Evidently the issue with the trees is that they made it dark under them. Dark under trees is called shade and, just because people seek it out under our hot summer sun, evidently the present size of the trees doesn’t fit the new proposed sanitised park look. The new park look is proposed to be facilitated by the removal of 194 square metres of Railway Park grass, to be replaced by 194 square metres of concrete, with another couple of hundred square metres of concrete for a park extension from Jonson St to the railway forecourt (requests for retention of park grass, and grass for the proposed extension, have been made).
The Byron Environment Centre is still attempting to keep the Rotunda in Railway Park. We have agreed to temporarily move during park works, and have suggested temporary placement on the adjoining Visitors Centre Reserve, as we are concerned with the harsh beachfront weather impacts on the painted murals. Despite previously formally telling us to remove the Byron Environment Centre’s Rotunda from Railway Park, Council is now asking us to prove we own it and still hasn’t agreed to a position in the park, or to an arrangement of us as managers of the structure.