'Friends' say be brave and ignore the fearmongering
AS A crucial vote looms on the $76.5 million Cultural and Civic Space, one community group has come out fighting in support of the project.
Friends of the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery have accused councillor Paul Amos of fearmongering in relation to the proposed building in the CBD, which will house a new regional gallery, library, museum and council offices.
Cr Amos has warned that costs could blow out to as much as $100-million with disastrous consequences for council and ratepayers.
But president of the Friends group, Heather McKinnon, who has been leading the charge for adequate facilities for years, urges the community to get behind the cultural infrastructure she says is well overdue.
"We have 10,000 children in this local government area under the age of 10 and they are expected to use a one metre by one metre square in the council library," Ms McKinnon said
"Our museum does not meet the minimum space requirements for local school excursions. If we are to improve education outcomes we need a good solid investment in cultural infrastructure."
She says Coffs Harbour City Council is one of the most highly skilled councils in regional NSW.
"The argument by one councillor is fearmongering and the nay-sayers are now focused on the alleged lack of competency of the council to complete this project," Ms McKinnon said.
She has highlighted a number of recent projects including flood mitigation, sewerage works, and upgrades to the airport and international stadium as proof council can complete the Cultural and Civic Space to the highest standard.
"This project will be no different; it's been planned properly and lead by professionals," she said.
"Our community needs to draw together to support the brave council who are about to vote on this crucial development for a stronger Coffs Harbour."
At their next meeting on July 11 councillors will vote on putting the project to tender stage.
"The vote is the critical next step in progressing the proposed building.
"With an overarching theme of 'All Welcome' the space aims to create a more vibrant and active city Centre. Community consultation on the draft schematic design has been completed and feedback will be considered by council prior to the vote on Thursday."
Heather says there is widespread support for the project from groups including the Coffs Chamber of Commerce, Southern Cross University and the Cex Group.
"These organisations understand the immediate benefits of stimulating building, jobs and spending while boosting tourism and services to the community longer term."
The Friends urge people to voice their support by emailing their councillors and attending the council meeting at 5pm on Thursday July 11at the council chambers.