Ulmarra the 'forgotten village'
ULMARRA has been named as a 2010 Tidy Town nominee, but judges might have some trouble finding it.
From a broken entrance sign and overgrown weeds to cracked footpaths and an ill-maintained council building, Ulmarra residents are feeling like the inhabitants of a forgotten village, drowning in disrepair.
Despite being on the edge of the Pacific Highway, residents and owners of a number of local businesses have told The Daily Examiner they feel their quaint township is being ignored by Clarence Valley Council and the Roads and Traffic Authority.
Business owner Col Wilcox said since council amalgamations in February 2004, Ulmarra had ‘gone backwards’.
“Once upon a time, you could drive into Ulmarra and it was a pretty little village with a sense of local pride,” Mr Wilcox said.
“The edges were mown, everything was trim and proper.
“Now, signs have fallen down and you can’t see the traffic islands because of the long grass.”
Across the highway from Mr Wilcox’s Colkan International business, the traffic island housing a 50km/hr speed sign is completely invisible, so weed-infested is its state.
Further north along the highway and only the top half the northern entrance sign is still standing. Visitors see ‘Settled in 1857’ but would be unsure of exactly what was settled, as the other sign – presumably displaying the word Ulmarra – is nowhere to be found.
Mr Wilcox said the sign fell down between a year and 18 months ago.
“This is the image they’re projecting to passing trade,” he said.
Ulmarra Newsagency owner Dave Woodall echoed Mr Wilcox’s comments.
“The entrance to the town doesn’t look good either end,” he said.
Mr Woodall said a council gardener used to spend a good portion of the week keeping Ulmarra in tip-top condition.
“He’s hardly ever here anymore,” he said. “He’s here one day a week now, if we’re lucky, and there’s a lot for him to do.”
Mr Woodall believed the RTA was responsible for the maintenance along the highway.
He also pointed to the council-owned property on the corner of Coldstream Street and the highway as an ‘eyesore’.
“They need to either pull it down or paint it,” he said.
Resident of 35 years Wayne Brown agreed Ulmarra was ‘being neglected’.
“It’s gotten worse in the last four or five months,” he said.
Mr Brown said of particular concern to him was the state of the footpaths near Ulmarra Public School, which have not been repaired – just spray painted.
“The footpaths are that bad that the kids could trip easily on the raised edges of cement,” he said.
The residents also told The Daily Examiner that Memorial Park, by the wharf, was being mown by a local so it was kept tidy.
Clarence Valley Council Mayor Richie Williamson said council had no record of the complaints.
“We have no record of these being issues, but we’re happy to take them on board,” he said.
Cr Williamson said Council had to liaise with the RTA on mowing between the town’s 50km/hr signs on the highway.
“Traffic control is required by the RTA,” he said.
“Council has to give two weeks’ notice to carry out the works, which we’re happy to comply with. Outside that 50km/hr zone is a responsibility of the RTA.”
Cr Williamson said discussions were ‘already under way’ with the Rural Fire Brigade regarding the council-owned property on the corner of Coldstream Street.
“Those discussions will continue,” he said.
He said the footpaths were spray-painted to ‘highlight some kind of a hazard’.
“That is done throughout the Clarence Valley area,” he said.
“It’s fair to say the requirements for footpaths ... far outweigh the budgets that are required each financial year.”
Cr Williamson said council was working through a priority list and pedestrian and mobility plans ‘to highlight further areas of need’.
He said council staff had attended Memorial Park yesterday to mow the grass and tidy the area ahead of Anzac Day.