I have lived in Forster for about 23 years I am a long term member of the Forster Tuncurry Mudcrabs and former president. I am also an executive member of the Forster Tuncurry Business Chamber and have been for some 15 years and I also swim at Forster Main Beach or the Bullring pretty well every day of the year.
I disapprove of the Forster Main Beach Plan for a number of reasons and on a number of issues; however I will only concentrate on parking.
I attended the beach barbecue in July 2017 and again recently, I also attended and spoke at a community workshop at the council chambers in October 2017. Myself and Gary Gersbach represented the business chamber at this meeting.
Consideration has not been given to our aged population, to disabled people, to women with young children attending the beach, who cannot leave their young children whilst they go and locate a distant parking location.
When I asked about the removal of so much parking, being replaced by minimal parking and drop-off zones, I was told in the future driverless cars would drop people off and pick people up. I believe this is unrealistic.
The statement that council buildings have reached the end of their useful life, that could have been said about the toilets and change rooms at the beach 10 to 20 years ago, the Bullring has one male toilet and one urinal. These amenities have never been upgraded. The council workers who care for the amenities and clean the pool do an awesome job under the circumstances.
The Bullring pool is pretty good and adequate and requires only minor improvements. The gap in the handrail into the pool, new concrete on walkway and stairs are examples. Any improvements in the Bullring Precinct would be greatly appreciated.
My main problem with the master plan is removal of parking. Every day of the year from sunrise to sunset people park at Forster Main Beach and watch the ocean, the dolphins, the boats, people of all ages and occupations and backgrounds, elderly people, disabled people, tradesman having lunch, tourists.
The parking at the Bullring is constantly in use and often full, some days you will see disabled stickers on more than half the cars there, yet there are only two disabled spots. Holiday times and weekends, it is extremely difficult to get a park even near the Bullring. The Bullring is extremely popular with families and swimmers. No parking should be taken from the Bullring. A lot of the regular swimmers have difficulty walking a distance in excess of 100 metres. I am one of them.
What will happen first? The removal of parking spaces, or the proposed underground parking and the Oyster Parade parking?
Who will pay for this?
An alternative to be considered: Take out the grass island in North Street. Move the parking spaces facing the beach back 10 to 20 metres and have green space between the beach and the parking spaces.
Have one way traffic in North Street.
People can enjoy the green space, provide more seating and if people want to sit in their cars and watch the ocean they can.
This alternative would be practical, inexpensive, create more green space and save the removal of over 100 car spaces.
This plan could be prepared by the council planning staff, no requirement to spend huge amounts on planning consultants.
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