Geoff Helisma |
Councillors gave the Ulmarra Riverside and Village Precinct Plan a $1 million kick along the road to realisation at last week’s July 23 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting.
The news has been welcomed by the town’s residents association, Ulmarra Village Inc (UVI), which was only expecting the plan to be adopted, with quotes to be sought for a detailed design, as recommended by CVC staff.
Instead, Cr Richie Williamson moved a motion to use the remaining $1 million from section 94A funds contributed to CVC by the new Clarence Correctional Centre, which is currently under construction, and create a specific fund for the Ulmarra precinct.
In February this year, $2 million of the $3 million fund was put towards implementing the Grafton Waterfront Precinct Plan.
Councillors also endorsed seeking “quotes for a detailed design, to meet the objectives of the Ulmarra Riverside and Village Precinct Plan [and specifically] for the redevelopment of the Baileys Park section of the plan”.
“We are positive about the outcome,” UVI’s president, Steve Pickering, said; “it was good to see after the disappointment with the pool being demolished … it’s a great start.
“The community is definitely behind the plan – it shows that when the community works with staff and councillors we can get positive outcomes.”
During debate, Cr Williamson acknowledged that councillors “made some uncomfortable and unpopular decisions” about closing and demolishing the pool.
“[But] I said there was light at the end of tunnel and the plan itself is something that will highlight Ulmarra after the bypass happens,” he said.
He said once the precinct is completed it would realise a similar potential to what is happening at Woodburn’s river park development, spurred on by that town being bypassed by the new highway.
“I don’t think there would be a council with a million to spend on a project like this,” he said, “so I guess we’re in a unique position … [to have] unencumbered funds from the gaol … [and, being] close to the gaol site, the community will have some big buy-in when it is … completed.
“[It’ll] turn the million dollars into $8.4 million [an estimated precinct redevelopment cost], like the loaves and fishes.”
Like the “successful riverside precinct plans Grafton and Maclean”, the Ulmarra precinct plan “will be used opportunistically to gain funding [via grants] for implementation”, the report to council stated.
Councillor Peter Ellem said he had spoken with “many” people in Ulmarra who are “now 100 per cent behind the plan”, even though they still “want a pool”.
Councillor Jason Kingsley said that “in about 12 months time the highway will bypass Ulmarra and the [passing] traffic” the town relies on “will be gone”.
He said the town “needs beautification to attract tourists; not just day-trippers but overnight stayers”.
“This, I think, will assist with the ongoing viability of the village.”
Councillor Andrew Baker said he was “very happy” about prioritising the Bailey Park upgrade, in relation to the overall precinct plan.
Councillor Williamson said the council had come a long way from when parts of the community wanted “a hole dug and six, seven or nine councillors thrown in”, as a result of the pool decision.
“I hope the community takes some comfort with the million dollars set aside … and a plan to get cracking,” Cr Williamson said.
He also said his intention was not “promising to spend a million in this financial year or next … but to get cracking to seek funds from the state government”.
Councillors were unanimous with their decision.