Death threats, personal attacks and other extreme views over the Coffs Harbour Bypass design have detracted from both sides of the debate.
Death threats, personal attacks and other extreme views over the Coffs Harbour Bypass design have detracted from both sides of the debate. RMS

The great divide in the bypass design

THE personal attack on Coffs Harbour mayor Denise Knight over the city councillors' stance against the RMS bypass design is yet another low point in the city's push to get trucks out of the city centre.

In making its point, the sign was not clever, nor was it even humorous, it was even incorrect with the reference to taxpayers money, but worst of all proved to be a baseless claim to distract the community from the real point of contention - money.

SENDING A MESSAGE: Someone isn't happy with the way Denise Knight is handling the bypass, and the mayor has hit back.
SENDING A MESSAGE: Someone isn't happy with the way Denise Knight is handling the bypass, and the mayor has hit back. Sam Flanagan

Sure $1.2 billion is a massive investment in any infrastructure project, but this commitment to the bypass route is the lowest of the quotes on the planning table, a sounding out to market - to you the taxpayers of the Coffs Coast - by the RMS and government as to whether Coffs Harbour will accept landbridges instead of tunnels.

Just like the landowners whose properties stand in the way of the bypass route, Coffs Harbour shouldn't accept the first offer on the table, but instead seek to negotiate a better option.

That's the art of compromise, after all the bypass is built just once.

For 30 years, The Advocate has followed the lead of the community and pressed governments for a bypass commitment.

Now the funds have come through why would we just roll over and accept a 'second rate' option, given most in the community expected tunnels, a lower road gradient and a first class road construction to minimise noise.

MAKING A STAND: One of the signs that have since been removed.
One of the signs placed along the highway by the Coffs Harbour councillors bypass working group.

I'm sorry, the dangerous goods and tunnels debate is no deal breaker.

Since the great divide over the concept design arose in the community, we've seen the Chamber of Commerce and Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker call for calm in the debate and rightly so, as there's been a few extreme views and actions on both sides.

Of great concern were the claims of an 'over the phone' death threat to a resident, who through our pages was campaigning for an immediate start to the bypass construction incorporating landbridges.

Bypass now action group, Barbara Davis (left), Jan Lumsden (right). 06 DEC 2018
Bypass now action group, Barbara Davis (left), Jan Lumsden (right). 06 DEC 2018 Trevor Veale

What a cowardly action, just like Sunday's attack on the mayor.

Nameless, faceless pot shots, on a par with the derogatory comments we see all to regularly from keyboard warriors using fake Facebooks accounts.

If you have a strong view on a topic, stand up and be counted, just like the councillors have, don't use underhanded tactics to evoke a response.

Sure a lot hinges on the bypass development - people's property investments, their livelihoods, their peace of mind in their own homes and even their political futures.

But with that said there's no excuse for below the belt blows in this bout.

A fight fought with honour is the only battle worth winning or losing.