Patients parked high and dry in hospital flood zone
HOSPITAL patients, visitors and staff are expected to cheer the news that Coffs Harbour City Council and NSW Health are negotiating over land for a large new car park and a second access to the Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
Parking at the health campus is at crisis point during busy times of the day, with frustrated motorists forced to drop off patients and visitors; circle the hospital waiting for scarce parks or use 4WD vehicles to jump kerbs and park on lawns or across drains.
The site is flood prone and a traffic accident on the Pacific Hwy in south Coffs Harbour can cut access to the hospital.
NSW Health Infrastructure car parking program director Rebecca Wark addressed Coffs Harbour City councillors on Thursday on the proposed 'disposal' of land to Health Infrastructure.
She emphasised the improved asset value of 800 new car parking spaces and the fact that Mid North Coast Health was one of the city's largest employers.
Ms Wark appealed to councillors to provide the 2.83ha parcel of land on the terms requested so NSW Health could include construction of an alternative, safer access to the site via Hawthorne Drive into the budget for the project.
She said building a multi-storey carpark on existing health campus land was not financially feasible as this was five times more expensive than providing on-grade parking, costing about $30,000 per park as opposed to around $5000.
She said the new parking would be above the one in 100 year flood level.
The councillors went into confidential session to debate the matter, but not before Cr John Arkan moved to offer the required land, part of the Coffs Coast Sport and Leisure Park precinct, to NSW Health for a token $1 per annum.
An amendment by Cr Rodney Degens returned the matter to confidential discussion.
The council has already provided the health campus with three parcels of land totalling more than 2ha for various facilities, either free or for $1 a year leases.
More recently the council sold another 4,650square metre site to NSW Health for $100,000, which was considered substantially less than its value, to allow the expansion of the mental health unit. That site was previously used for parking and as a wildlife corridor.
At the conclusion of their confidential discussions, the councillors voted to make a counter offer to NSW Health for 55% of the site, which would allow construction of 450 new car parking spaces.