Push for public facilities takes a back seat
THE work of Gulmarrad residents to campaign for public space has brought their community together and injected some spirit into the rural village.
However, for the three proponents of plans lobbying the council to allocate facilities such as a playground or meeting, it is time to take a back seat.
The Community Facilities for Gulmarrad group formed in June 2017 to help address the lack of public space in Gulmarrad.
One of the organisers Grace Westera said while individual councillors had been supportive of their aim, Clarence Valley Council rejected three years of submissions to their budget.
"Gulmarrad still does not have a park or meeting area within walking distance of the majority of Gulmarradians," Ms Westera said.
"However, since our push began, nearby Townsend has acquired a brewery and op-shop, and now a proposed sports court. These benefit Gulmarradians also, with increased opportunities for social and physical health."
Ms Westera said the Lions Club of Maclean had supported Gulmarradians in the acquisition of a book swap library and a red bench, along with a community noticeboard to be added.
"We thank them for this," she said. "Other than the footpath, these are the only public facilities in Gulmarrad."
COVID-19 restrictions forced the closure of their swap library created at the bright red bench in the village, though this has reopened with a request for users to be safe.
Ms Westera said monthly get-togethers on the verge of the road had provided information to the community and connected residents.
"A direct outcome of this has been the development of lasting friendships. During COVID-19, we have also seen wonderful spontaneous community connections," she said.
"(There are) photos on social media of neighbours enjoying refreshments over the fence and others using the Gulmarrad Community Facebook page to offer help to the isolated and elderly.
"This growing community spirit and increasing numbers of residents using the path for exercise and conversation has been heartwarming, and in alignment with our vision for a socially and physically connected community.
"Our goals have in part been achieved, through both our monthly gatherings on the verge of the road and COVID-19."
With the restrictions, the team behind the community push have taken the time to reassess their priorities, leading to them deciding to cease their involvement with the campaign.
"We believe we have shown the council the need for at least a playground here in Gulmarrad and hope they will provide one in the near future," Ms Westera said.
"We would be more than happy if others with fresh ideas and enthusiasm would like to take over. The Gulmarrad marquee and chairs and tables will be available for use for community events from the Maclean Lions."
The group wished to give thanks to the North Coast Primary Health Network, the Lions Club of Maclean and councillors Simmons, Novak, Clancy, and Ellem for their significant support.