Green light for waterfront plan
CLARENCE VALLEY Council (CVC) is one step closer to breaking ground on its ambitious Grafton Waterfront Precinct Plan, with the project being formally adopted by council at its Tuesday night meeting.
The multi-million dollar plan which comes under the over-arching Clarence River Way Scheme, will see 1.2km of Grafton CBD's riverfront areas overhauled to improve public access and better utilise the Clarence River.
CVC Mayor Richie Williamson said Tuesday night's decision meant the gears were now firmly set in motion.
“Now that the plan is adopted, one of the challenges is to find the funds to finance the works,” Cr Williamson said.
“We'll be seeking grant funding from our state and our federal partners in government and the council also has, in its draft budget for next year, some $350,000 which will kick-off the process next financial year.”
Mr Williamson said the $350,000 meant the Grafton community would soon start seeing progress.
“In the first stages, you will see changes at the river end of Prince St, with regards to pavement and access to the river and that will hopefully get under way next financial year,” he said.
Although the money to be put up by council in next year's draft budget just scratched the surface financially on the plan's estimated final cost, tipped to be $6.6 million, he said council was confident it could attract state and federal funding.
“We've been successful with our grant funding applications in the past and that is because we have had very, very, solid and well-researched plans. For example, the Clarence River Way Master Plan, which is the over-arching document, was successful in gaining millions of dollars worth of grants,” he said.
“This plan (the Waterfront Precinct Plan) which is under the master plan, is one that is very robust, one that has had great community input and one that we feel confident will attract grant funds over time.”
Mr Williamson said the Clarence River was Grafton's major natural asset and the idea behind the waterfront plan was to make sure the community was able to make the most of it.
“There has always been a view, whether it was perceived or actual, that the Clarence River was always under-utilised and this plan goes some way to making sure the river is open for the public's use,” he said.
Since the idea for the plan first emerged last year, the council has been gathering input from the community and support for the plan was overwhelming, he said.
“The community input has been great for this project. We held open days late last year, asking people what they really valued about the river and the response was very, very, strong,” he said.
Grafton Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Jeremy Challacombe also welcomed the council's adoption of the plan and said it could be a real boon for the city if properly implemented.
“We have no problems with it because it's something that is promoting Grafton and hopefully it will promote businesses here too – it's an opportunity to highlight this place a bit more,” Mr Challacombe said.
“As long as it's well-managed though – we don't want them to set-up a waterfront facility that isn't followed-through with management.”