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Community action group aims for better facilities

Eve Lucock, Shiloh Grivins, Ezra Grivins, Rose Lucock would love to have a nearby playground at which they could play. The Community Facilities for Gulmarrad’ group is holding a workshop from 1pm to 2pm at Gulmarrad Public School this Saturday December 9, to come up with a plan to turn a wish into reality. Image: Contributed


Geoff Helisma

A dedicated group of Gulmarrad residents, who have been working towards establishing community facilities in the area, is holding a workshop from 1pm to 2pm at Gulmarrad Public School this Saturday December 9.

Clarence Valley’s mayor, Jim Simmons, will be attending the workshop, which is being conducted by the ‘Community Facilities for Gulmarrad’ group.

Councillor Simmons said the “group is very positive and wants to work with the council; and I want to help too”.

“I would like council to work through with the Gulmarrad community to ascertain what they would like in some sort of priority, to start a process,” he said.

The mayor said he was aiming to facilitate “a combined effort between council officers and the community at Gulmarrad”, and said he would ensure that the council’s general manager, Ashley Lindsay, would attend and/or that “the director for planning or a senior planning officer will be there”.

The Community Facilities for Gulmarrad group began its initiative in June, “with a letterbox drop to the 639 houses in Gulmarrad, to raise awareness”.

Then, in August, the first community workshop was held, after which a survey was conducted.

A spokesperson for the group, Grace Westera, said that “12.36 per cent of households and 26 per cent of students from Gulmarrad public school” completed the survey.

“The survey revealed five types of facilities that residents would like to have in Gulmarrad,” she said.

The list is: 1. park/playground with barbecue facilities; 2. connected trails and walkways; 3. sporting fields; 4. community centre; and, 5. a dog friendly area.

Looking to the future, Ms Westara said the group was aiming “to put together a proposal to Clarence Valley Council [CVC] for the development of community facilities” to take advantage of any available “significant state grants”.

“Research shows that physical and mental well-being is related to the availability of attractive facilities, especially those that are within walking distance,” she said.

“According to CVC statistics, Gulmarrad/Townsend has a population of 2,596 people [the 2016 census defines thus: Gulmarrad: 1,601 people, Townsend: 890 people], just behind Maclean’s 2,648, and, even though Gulmarrad has the second fastest population growth rate in the valley behind Clarenza, Gulmarrad has no community facilities whatsoever.”

This seeming anomaly is a result of Gulmarrad being a community comprised of rural residential, large-style blocks; and, if the area was to receive some of the infrastructure on the five-point list, it would be reliant on development of the land at the corner of Sheehans Lane and Brooms Head Road, which is zoned to accommodate up to 700 urban lots.

However, this could be a long time coming – the Community Facilities for Gulmarrad group is aiming for something sooner, rather than later.

For further information email to [email protected] or make contact through the group’s Facebook page.