Gooley backs petition for halt to ‘flawed process’
PROMINENT businessman Steve Gooley wants a full government investigation into what he says is the flawed process behind the controversial Cultural and Civic Space.
That's why he is throwing his weight behind the petition against the Coffs Harbour City Council project, on target to be tabled in NSW parliament. Mr Gooley is the General Manager of the Bachrach Naumburger Group.
It needs 10,000 signatures to be tabled, and after being launched just two weeks ago, already has close to 8,000.
Former Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser is also strongly opposed to the $76.5 million project which he fears could blow out to as much as $100 million.
"Andrew said something the other day about there being less than 45,000 registered adult voters in Coffs Harbour and that made me think here we will have 10,000 of those by Friday I'm quite sure," Mr Gooley said.
"That's about a quarter of the adult population not actually saying no but saying let's go back and look at this. This is not a noisy minority."
The petition is calling for a 'pause' on the Gordon Street project which will include a regional gallery, library, museum, meeting rooms and cafe along with council customer service area and council offices. It's the council office space and lack of performing arts centre that has attracted much opposition.
There has also been much criticism at what people say is a lack of consultation and financial analysis, with the petition specifically calling for more meaningful community consultation looking at other options for a new performing arts facility along with alternative gallery, library and museum options.
With so many people holding passionately opposed views on the CBD project, there's been accusations of vested interests on both sides and the Advocate put this to Mr Gooley in relation to his business links.
"My company obviously has interests in Park Beach and at The Jetty but a healthy CBD has an impact on Coffs Harbour as a whole, so we want to promote a strong CBD but this is not the answer to a strong CBD."
The project has also divided council with Mayor Denise Knight being called on to use her casting vote with councillors split four-four. A rescission motion and physical walkout of four councillors escalated tensions and delayed the decision further.
On August 8 the stalemate was broken and the Mayor 'delighted' to use her casting vote to proceed to detailed design and construction phase.
Once the petition is tabled and debated in Parliament, Mr Fraser is hoping to take a small delegation to Sydney to call on the Minister of Local Government Shelley Hancock and the NSW Auditor-General to look into the matter.
Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh did not want to comment on the petition but has received a number of letters on the matter and has forwarded them to Minister Hancock.