Fire funds for roads not preschool: angry residents
THE Nana Glen community has once again expressed it loud and clear to Council - bush fire relief funds should be used to upgrade road infrastructure.
At a recent community meeting, this time with a professional facilitator, residents were asked to prioritise projects for the remainder of the $1.3m Federal Govt Bushfire Recovery Grant allocated to Coffs Harbour City Council.
The first allocation of $416,784 signed-off by Councillors at their February 13 meeting has been met with strong community opposition largely due to the allocation of $78,784 for the Lower Bucca Pre-School.
Some angry residents have been lobbying Council to rescind the motion but with no luck.
Kathryn James, Ken Eggins and Helen Schlangenotto have been pushing for the preschool project to be removed from the program of works.
"Why has Council included 'Lower Bucca Pre-school Refurbishment' in this Bushfire Recovery funding when the preschool was not impacted in any way by the bushfire on November 12, 2019? Not only was it not burnt down or damaged by the fire but it is situated over 10km from the fire-zone," they wrote in a submission to Council.
"This also explains why it was not even raised as a possible community project by residents at the Nana Glen Community Consultation meeting on January 28.
"It has been mentioned since that Council denied the preschool's application for funding under their Community Facility Grants Programme nine months ago. But now they consider it a priority for funding from the Bushfire Recovery Funds?"
In a letter from Council's General Manager Steve McGrath to one of those pushing to overturn the decision he attempts to explain the situation.
"You have correctly stated that a range of potential issues were discussed in broad terms at the January 28 community meeting and Lower Bucca Community Preschool was not raised.
"From the issues raised at the community meeting, a report was prepared for Council's February 13 meeting. While your concerns are noted, I must advise that once a decision has been made by Council by way of Resolution, it is my obligation to ensure that the decisions are implemented. Accordingly, the interim Program of Works is in the process of being implemented."
With the focus now on spending the remainder of the $1.3m (totalling $883,216) a second community meeting was held on March 11, facilitated by Emma Broomfield from Locale Consulting.
Participants were presented with a list of eight projects and asked to vote, using dots, for the one they would like to see priorities.
The results were as follows:
1st $250,000 for the replacement of McPhersons Bridge, Nana Glen - 47 dots
2nd $ 70,000 for turnaround bays for emergency vehicles - 33 dots
3rd $250,000 for ten water access hardstand sites for RFS tankers - 29 dots
4th $200,000 upgrade of safe spaces - 24 dots
5th $200,000 for an environmental recovery program - 22 dots
6th $200,000 for promotion of the area - 1 dot
7th $ 60,000 for a mobile recovery office - 1 dot
8th $50,000 for a community resilience program - 0 dots