Smiling brightly as she addressed the large crowd who attended the first Grafton Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting for 2021, president Carol Pachos declared the occasion “a great opportunity to catch up with like-minded individuals and network.”
With a capacity of 70 people, the event was sold-out and Ms Pachos was pleased to welcome several first-time attendees to the meeting which was held at the Clocktower Hotel on February 17.
After acknowledging the Bundjalung people as the traditional custodians of the land on which the meeting took place, Ms Pachos introduced representatives from Clarence Valley Council, including General Manager Ashley Lindsay who were the main speakers at the event.
Ongoing community projects including the Grafton CBD and Transport Strategy, Grafton Waterfront Precinct development and Grafton Aquatic Centre upgrade were discussed at length with members of the crowd, which included several local business leaders and representatives, invited to ask questions and offer their opinions.
As he took hold of the microphone, Mr Lindsay spoke of the significant impact the Clarence Valley continues to experience following the devasting bush fires, floods and ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
But he remained positive when he spoke of council’s strategies to manage the continuous recovery and focus on delivering the projects and ongoing capital works programs to the local community.
Along with a $6.5 million grant council received last year from the Federal Government for the Grafton Riverside Precinct, Mr Lindsay revealed council has put forth grant applications to secure funding, upwards of $20 million, to upgrade the Grafton Aquatic Centre and work has already begun on the masterplan.
During the meeting, council also revealed community consultation regarding the Grafton CBD and Transport Strategy had delivered pleasing results with more than 150 people participating in online surveys and in-person surveys in recent weeks.
A spokesperson for the council said one of the main community concerns was providing more shaded areas, especially for parking, in the Grafton CBD, and creating a more environmentally friendly commercial hub.
Council have also invested in more rangers to address the ongoing issue of “freedom campers” who are impacting local residents, especially in coastal areas, by establishing makeshift camping sites.
A dedicated parking officer has also been employed to manage parking zones, especially outside local office buildings, and council are continuing to encourage residents to participate in the Grafton CBD and Transport Strategy online survey as part of the upgrade includes parking strategies.
“We need more long-term parking and more parking for larger vehicles so please put your opinions forward,” Mr Lindsay said.
Mr Lindsay also revealed council will be making several significant announcements over the next few weeks which the Clarence Valley Independent will report accordingly.
The upcoming council election was also discussed with Ms Pachos recognising the “amazing business leaders” in the room and encouraging them to think about serving their community as councillors in 2021 and beyond.
“Maybe it’s the time to have a think about that,” she said with a smile.
“Maybe you are just the person that council needs.”