Finding a park in Byron Bay may be like shooting fish in a barrel at the moment, but Council is clearly preparing for the return of traffic chaos once social distancing laws are lifted.
At last week’s full council meeting, councillors passed a motion emphasising the need for the Butler Street Reserve to be retained as a parking location outside the CBD when it reopens following construction of the Byron Bypass.
The future use of the Reserve has been the focus of considerable discussion and debate over the past two years.
A number of residents living in close proximity to the site have been vehemently opposed to it being used for all-day free parking as it was for much of last year.
They say this use resulted in van packers camping there overnight and leaving a trail of rubbish and excrement behind them.
But parking looks set to remain a key focus on the Reserve, after all but one councillor passed a motion emphasising the ‘strategic value of the Butler Street Reserve in relation to promoting masterplan objectives, specifically the need for periphery parking outside the Byron Bay CBD’.
This was part of a broader motion to proceed with the development of an Environmental Management Plan for the site.
‘We do need to move on this site, however I’m just wondering whether we’ve missed something along the way,’ Independent Councillor Basil Cameron told the meeting.
‘I would like to see it made clear that the importance of the parking is understood.
‘Until we have an alternative spot for peripheral parking I don’t want to see us close down that process.’
Earlier, during the public access section of the meeting, nearby resident Darryl Heniker said he and his neighbours wanted the Council to focus on greening the site.
‘I want to urge that green areas are so important,’ Mr Heniker said.
‘Even if you go to the Gold Coast it’s the green areas you look at.
‘I urge the council to keep in mind that we are desperate for this area not to be a total carpark.
‘The other question here is where will the entry to the carpark be? It will have to be on Sommerset St you would think and I think due consideration need to be given to where abouts this is going to be.’
Mr Heniker said residents were also keen to see the return of the Byron Farmer’s Market and the Byron Community Market to the reserve.
The iconic markets have been temporarily relocated to the Cavanbah Centre and Denning Park respectively since last July, with Byron Council promising their return once construction of the Byron Bypass is completed.
In 2017, the Butler Street reserve was investigated by Transport for NSW as a potential site for the new Byron Bay Bus interchange.
However a contamination assessment by consultants SMEC concluded that the former contaminated landfill in this location made the option of a new interchange unviable.