Residents groups are rallying Sunday March 17 from 11am in a last ditch attempt to save ‘much of what is loved and enjoyed about the old western side of town under threat from major redevelopments’.
Groups that have put their name to the press release are Butler Street Community Network, Byron Environment Centre, the Rainbow Region Stallholders Association and the Save Byron Community Markets at Butler Street Recreation Reserve Committee.
The release reads, ‘The settled, heritage Butler Street turned into one of the busiest roads in Byron, the pedestrian friendly neighbourhood transformed into a car freeway, the paving of Butler Street Recreation Reserve as a parking lot, a major tourist bus interchange plonked into the residential neighbourhood, up to five hectares of damage and destruction of old growth wetlands habitat, the iconic market quarter squeezed out by parking, paving and traffic, all this is slated for development starting within weeks.
Rally organisers believe there is one last chance to take a stand and show our politicians that this is not the outcome the community will endorse.
The release reads, ‘The Butler Street Recreation Reserve, a Crown reserve protected by legislation is being trashed and abandoned. We get the impression that the intention is to degrade the reserve to such an extent that the viability of the traditional markets on the reserve will be destroyed to move us on’.
Longtime market stallholder Sky Wesolowski says free parking has created an unprecedented physical damage to the reserve.
‘Huge semis are allowed to churn up possibly contaminated sands… is this in the Shire which used to pride itself as a beacon of environmental awareness?’
Paul Jones, president of the Butler Street Community Network, says, ‘The recent proposal to place a large 24-hour bus interchange surrounding the heritage steam engine era water tower on Butler Street has shocked the entire neighbourhood’.
‘This is just incredible that our own Council would secretly conspire to place such an incompatible development among our homes without an ounce of consultation is beyond distasteful. They have complete disregard for the town, its residents and its heritage, they cannot profess to be public servants.’
‘Butler Street has been slated as a CBD bypass for over five years when [former Nationals MP] Don Page announced funding for the traffic diversion on the basis that it must avoid the identified rail corridor route in favour of the proposed rail trail. Our community on Butler St has been battling this outcome ever since’, says Mr Jones.
‘Butler Street is not the best route; it is expensive and has huge impacts and threats that we now see playing out. Byron Bay has an extraordinary legacy of a transport corridor and that is what it should be used for – traffic and transport solutions for Byron Bay.
‘The rally is endorsed by several local community organisations and will be attended by Greens MP Tamara Smith, together with state election candidates Cathy Blasonato of the Animal Justice Party NSW and Asren Pugh of Country Labor.
‘Rally attendees have been asked to adopt a “hi vis” outfit, with fluoro-colours and or reflecto-tape, e.g. bike gear, work vests, yoga pants etc, we shall not be overlooked!’