WISH LIST: What you wanted for the Clarence 10 years ago
THE number 2020 is synonymous with clear sight and great vision and with that in mind, we would love to hear what you think would make our Valley great in the next decade.
Ten years ago The Daily Examiner published a list of eight things our readers wanted done and most are done or close to completion.
The outstanding omission on the list is finding the killer of murdered Brooms Head teenager Lee Ellen Stace.
Report card for 2010-20:
1) A commitment to making more of the Pacific Highway between Coffs Harbour and Ballina dual carriageway.
The NSW Government has announced there are no plans for major development in this most dangerous section of highway in the next five years. It needs to be done sooner to save lives.
While the five-year deadline came and went, in the second half of the decade Valley residents witnessed a multi-billion dollar comittment to the highway upgrade which should be finished later this year.
2) A commitment to funding a second Grafton Bridge.
A recent RTA call for comment on a preferred route is welcome but needs backing with funds and a timetable.
Once again progress was slow, but we ended the decade with a second bridge across the Clarence at Grafton and Harwood. The construction boost to the local economy has been huge. Now it's up to us to make the most of the new infrastructure.
3) Completion of the operating theatres at Grafton Base Hospital.
Work had begun on the multimillion-dollar upgrade of the hospital as 2010 began. Indeed the decade has finished with the hospital building encased in scaffolding as another big upgrade is underway to the ambulatory care department. The pressure is on the government to fund a new hospital in Grafton, which is at the top of the Northern NSW Local Health District priority list.
4) More police in the Clarence.
Many police are on long-term sick leave and need to be replaced to maintain police strength.
There has been a growth in police numbers in the Clarence. Whether this has fixed some of the issues the police union recognised 10 years ago is still not certain.
5) Youth centres for Grafton and Yamba.
There is a crime problem in both centres generated largely through boredom. Giving kids something positive to do will help bring down crime.
The long push to bring a PCYC to the region has finally borne fruit with a centre to open in Grafton early this year.
6) A January start to work on the Grafton pool.
It is now 13 months since pool buildings were destroyed by arsonists. The wait for the replacement is too long.
The delay in rebuilding the facilities was way too long for something that was such a valuable community asset. It caused unnecessary hardship on the pool managers and the community was disadvantaged. But the new facilities once built have been an improvement.
7) Funds allocated to buy out river fishermen who want to get out of the industry.
River fishermen have been through one of their worst years on record and many want to get out but can't afford to. Government needs to buy out their licences.
This sad saga continues to this day. It's not that there has been no action, it's more the State Government's plans have not hit the mark and fishers still complain they are being disadvantaged.
8) Someone to be charged over the Lee Ellen Stace murder.
More of a hope than a campaign that after more than 12 years since her murder, someone will be charged.
The 2009 Coronial inquest into Lee Ellen's death had just wrapped up, bringing the 12-year-old case to front of mind for the Valley 10 years ago. A decade on and despite the occasional burst of publicity, police seem no closer to solving her murder, which must be disturbing for her family.