IT CAN be easy sometimes to misinterpret the decision to take a step back on a project as abandoning the whole thing.
Last week at our July ordinary meeting of council, councillors asked staff to take the planning for Crescent Head foreshore back to the community. We have asked staff to develop a new engagement process that will deliver a new overall concept design in approximately 24 months.
This was a tough decision. Why? Because we knew how much work and thought has already gone into it. Because the plans that were in front of us were not bad or inadequate. Far from it.
The existing plans had been developed over years of consultation with the community by staff who are committed to evolving the foreshore into a celebration of the spirit of Crescent Head.
On the other hand, there is no denying that there has been a passionate response to those plans from a number of people including locals and many visitors to Crescent Head.
Sometimes, it is only when we see the lines on a page that we truly realise what will be gained and what will be sacrificed. That seems to have happened here. The strong plans that were presented to the community last year sparked a passionate debate over carparks, surfing culture and the essence of Crescent Head.
But, while passionate debate is the lifeblood of democracy, that is of small comfort when you're caught in the middle.
It is understandable that some of those who have been involved in this project are feeling disappointed. Many locals gave up their time to participate in crafting the existing plans over four years. This is in addition to the staff who invested many hours into shaping both the plans and the engagement process.
To those individuals, on behalf of the whole community, I say a huge thank you. We couldn't arrive at a point of passionate community investment in a project like this without the work you have done.
The construction starting on Rankine St this week is a testament to the great work that was delivered by this team.
And I have one more thing to ask of you: Don't give up. Don't walk away now.
I don't want anyone to view this as a win or a loss. This is a step back in order to take many big steps forward.
The intent is to form a Community Advisory Group for this project and we need every opinion to be voiced. Those who supported the existing plans are the rightful advocates for the excellent ideas
within them and those with different views will have the opportunity to engage. It is by working together great places evolve.
With everyone at the table and a commitment to find a common vision, Crescent Head foreshore can be the iconic beauty we all know and love long into the future.
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