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Some of the plaques that have been attached to the “dull cement wall” at McLachlan Park. Image: Contributed.

Pollies forget to invite the community

Geoff Helisma |

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan and state Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis held a media event to mark the “completion of Stages 1 and 2” and to “officially” open McLachlan Park in Maclean on Wednesday August 5.

Among the invitees were Clarence Valley Council’s general manager, Ashley Lindsay, the mayor, Jim Simmons, and the Maclean Chamber of Commerce’s president, Peter Gordon.

However, the ‘opening’ of the park, or as Mr Hogan’s media release called it, ‘Maclean Riverside Precinct comes to life’, was taken as a snub by the town’s Scottish Town Association, which has long invested in the town’s Scottish image, both financially and in-kind.

One Scottish Town Association member, who was volunteering in the Scottish shop directly opposite, expressed his disappointment to the mayor, who subsequently requested Mr Lindsay to look into the issue.
“I simply ask Council Officers [to] include in future notifications the Scottish [Town] Association when these types of events come up,” Cr Simons wrote in an email to Mr Lindsay and his fellow councillors.

The mayor was also reacting to the association’s president, Bob MacPherson, who sent two emails to each of the councillors before the day’s end, expressing his dissatisfaction with the order of events.

Particularly shaken by the way the memorial plaques had been affixed to the levee wall, he wrote: “I was shocked and horrified to see the historical plagues today in McLachlan Park, just mounted on the dull cement flood wall.

“Surely, these valuable historic community plaques could have been attached to a coloured steel background plate to draw a standout feature to them.
“To my mind, it is a slap in the face to the good people who have served their town and country to see the plaques just thrown onto the dull cement wall.
“Come on councillors…. a 2 million plus riverfront park ….and Maclean gets their valuable historic plaque just stuck to a concert dull wall.
“Also the park still does not have a name plaque.”

Mr Macpherson has been a driving force behind the town’s Scottish Town Association for over 30 years.

It was his lobbying that began the process of redeveloping McLachlan Park: Mr MacPherson was bringing busloads of day-trippers to the town, many of whom were elderly and found it difficult to traverse the park’s topography.

On the plaques, Cr Simmons wrote to Mr Ashley and councillors, pointing out that “a little bit of consultation with community organisations would go a long way”.

A CVC spokesperson said that there will be an official opening, to which the public will be invited, once the funded stages have been completed.