Maclean needs big plans for IGA investment to thrive
AFTER six years of planning, Maclean's major retail expansion will start with the turning of the first sod on a new supermarket next month, and it may well be just the beginning of bigger things according to the Chamber of Commerce.
President Peter Gordon said that many in the community looked forward to the addition of the Ritchies IGA supermarket in the Cameron Park carpark site, and said that it had many benefits for the business district as a whole.
"It will make the town more central, the rest of the shops and the carpark will work better," he said.
"Everyone likes competition, and that's what it is. We're certainly in support of it."
And Mr Gordon said the start of that development would have a flow-on effect for others in the town looking to develop.
"With the IGA coming on line, as soon as the construction fences go up there'll be three others to go too," he said.
However, he said the missing piece of the puzzle for Maclean was the much talked about boardwalk project. He said with the new highway development finishing in the next few years, the investment in it and other infrastructure were vital for the town.
"We're trying to make Maclean a go-to place to bring more tourists in, and to get that waterfront going," he said.
"The whole economy around here is sugar cane and fishing, and we really have to get the extra dollars from tourists."
Mr Gordon said that a Ferry Park-style tourist centre was vital for the entrance into town, to bring tourists in off the newly upgraded highway.
"Once they're in here, they've got to have something for them to come into, and that's why the waterfront is so important," he said.
Mr Gordon said he was keen to see more investment make its way to Maclean, after what he calculated was nearly three billion dollars going towards the Grafton area since the build of the new library, with projects such as the bridge, jail, and art gallery recent examples.
"Council has to come up with something for Maclean, and it has to be substantial," he said.
"We've got $1.8m three years ago for the park against $3b."
Clarence Valley Council recently sent a funding wish list of priority projects to both the government and opposition, which included the Maclean Waterfront Project valued at $2.5m and a new Maclean Civic Hall precinct valued at $8.5m.
Mr Gordon said that an increase in residential density in town could lead to the area attracting over 50s resorts. He said the town was losing residents to places between Brisbane and Sydney.
"Fifty per cent of the people who live in those come from here, but the other 50 per cent come from other places, and they start spending money through the town, and that's what we want to happen," he said.
"We need that sort of investment, and we need a strong council to get this investment." - and once they start work other developers will see that and being as well."