Ballina Shire Councillor Jeff Johnson will attempt to defer the construction of a sealed path at Pat Morton Lookout in today’s council meeting.
Supported by Crs Sharon Parry and Keith Williams, Cr Johnson’s motion calls for council to ‘defer the consideration of a cycleway/shared path link through the Lennox Headland reserve (currently known as Pat Morton Lookout) until local indigenous elders have been given the opportunity to present options for the headland, including a culturally appropriate name.’
Further, the motion calls for a more thorough community consultation and engagement process, with a view to ‘a more holistic approach to the reserve’.
This comes after Ballina Council’s decision last month to proceed with a new path for the area in front of the carpark at Lennox Headland, linking up the two existing paths, ‘despite a majority of respondents to the consultation process not supporting this approach’, according to Cr Johnson.
He says the proposed works/concept plans for the headland (including a concrete path and picnic tables) were put together without any consultation with local indigenous elders. ‘This is despite council resolving back in January to consult indigenous elders about an appropriate name for the reserve, as well as cultural information, etc.’
Failed consultation process?
Jeff Johnson said, ‘Hundreds of people visit the headland reserve every day to take in the majestic vista and to relax on the grassy area. Clearly the consultation process was a failure when there was only 22 responses for such an iconic location.
‘About ten years ago council staff formed up a concrete path/pad in front of the carpark and it was met with widespread community outrage. A stop work order was subsequently introduced and the formwork removed.’
He argues that this should have been an indication that a large section of the community and headland reserve users don’t want a concrete pathway through the reserve, or more specifically, in front of the carpark.
‘Many people go up there and enjoy the view from their cars,’ said Cr Johnson. ‘To turn the area in front of this into a cycleway will greatly change the “vibe” up at the headland and impact on other users of that area who want to peacefully enjoy the view and/or relax on the grass.’
Surfing reserve impact?
‘I find it very disappointing that the submissions weren’t even included in the attachments to the report,’ said Cr Johnson. ‘If they were, councillors would have found out that the Lennox Surfing Reserve committee wrote a strong submission after consulting many of its members and they were totally against a cycleway in front of the cars.’
Ballina Council staff have responded by saying that the path option proposed is significantly different to the works proposed in the past, ‘as it includes removal of part of the northern section of the car park to provide a replacement grass surface to help minimise the impact of the path.’
The issue will be debated again this morning.
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