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(l-r) Clarence Valley Council’s general manager, Ashley Lindsay, incumbent Page MP Kevin Hogan and the deputy mayor, Jason Kingsley, were all on the same page following Mr Hogan’s $6.5million election promise on Thursday April 18. Image: contributed

$6.5m election promise to ‘revitalise’ Grafton’s waterfront

Geoff Helisma |

Incumbent Page MP Kevin Hogan has promised that the Australian Government will put $6.5million towards “revitalising … the three kilometre stretch of waterfront extending from Queen Street in the city to the Grafton Bridge” if a Coalition government is returned to power.

Once completed, Mr Hogan said, the area would become a “tourism hub”.

“It will be great for locals to enjoy and we think it will be a great tourist drawcard,” he said.

“As the highway moves a little bit away from Grafton, we still want people to come into Grafton and spend time and money here.”

Deputy mayor Jason Kingsley said it was “a very exciting announcement”.

“This is one of the next steps in Grafton and the Clarence Valley becoming a tourist destination and stopover,” he said.

He said the concept for the Grafton Waterfront Precinct Plan was adopted in 2011, when councillors “allocated $15,000 towards stage one of the plan”.

“This is going to enable the precinct to be redeveloped, revitalised and for the master plan to be progressed,” Cr Kingsley said.

“It’s also going to compliment what’s happening in Maclean with the riverside precinct there.

“I think there is going to be jobs coming out of this during the construction phase and it will be a great economic benefit to local businesses and the local community later down the track, with an increase in tourism as a result.”

The council’s general manager, Ashley Lindsay, said it was a “fantastic announcement” that was “a long time in coming for the Grafton community and the Clarence Valley”.

“We’ve worked really hard to lobby the government for a number of years to attract the funding needed to upgrade the Grafton waterfront,” he said.

“Council’s been working very hard with the concept plan’s development and we are currently negotiating with a lot of the property owners along the waterfront, who currently own the riverbank area, which we need to purchase for the plan to come to fruition.”

At the February council meeting, councillors resolved to “proceed to purchase the lots listed” in a confidential document that also outlines “the terms” under which they can be purchased.

Councillors allocated “up to $2million from Section 94A funds” towards the project at its August 2018 meeting.

The general manager was given “delegated authority … to execute any documents associated with a subdivision and purchase of the land”, which will subsequently be reclassified as “community” land.

Things earmarked for an upgrade include: Susan Island – lawn and picnic areas, walkways to rainforests and a new or repaired jetty; bowling club precinct – new marina with fuel and water pump out facilities: Prince Street arrival – new arrival plaza/ court for river centre and park, and a new river boulevard plaza, jetties and pontoons; the river centre – riverfront interpretation, Grafton Rowing Club memorabilia and administration centre and public toilets; Memorial Park/rowing club/Duke Street – new riverfront boulevard and paved access to rowing club, improved terraced entry stair and ramp from Duke Street; Villiers Street – new car park at lower river front, new access boardwalk; river boulevard – lighting and security measures to be designed; Clarence Street end – improved picnic and seating facilities, new beach/swimming options, sculptural earth terraces and new timber boardwalk; sailing club – provide better access from the club to the water with boardwalk or fixed launching jetty; and, bridge abutment – boating jetty and ramp access up to Fitzroy Street.