PLANE SPEAKING: Former RAAF pilot Ron Fisher (left) and a long-time opponent of the retirement village project, Dr Richard Gates.
PLANE SPEAKING: Former RAAF pilot Ron Fisher (left) and a long-time opponent of the retirement village project, Dr Richard Gates. Jay Cronan

Aged care site air crash inferno fear

RON FISHER, of Evans Head, does not want to be burned to death.

But this is what the 76-year-old fears will happen if he moves into a proposed aged-care facility built on the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome site.

During public access at Tuesday's Richmond Valley Council meeting, Mr Fisher told councillors it was too dangerous to build the facility near an airstrip.

Mr Fisher, a former RAAF pilot, said building the facility near an airstrip would endanger the lives of 'hundreds of elderly people packed in like sardines' should there be a plane crash.

Mr Fisher showed the council photographs of a plane he was piloting which it crashed shortly after take-off more than 50 years ago.

“If there had been houses there instead of a paddock it would have been a disaster,” he said.

At the meeting it was decided to recommence negotiations for the sale of part of the aerodrome for the purpose of building the facility.

Evans Head councillor Donella Kinnish spoke against the motion. She said the people of Evans Head wanted the facility, but not at that location.

Cr Barbara Jeffery, also from Evans Head, voted for the motion. She said 95 per cent of people in Evans Head supported the proposal to build the facility at the aerodrome.

“They are telling me if that is the only site available then we should go ahead and build it,” she said.

The developer, RSL Care, had considered an alternative site on Crown land at Currajong Street, Evans Head.

But the site was subject to a native title claim and the developers 'ran into a brick wall' while negotiating the sale, according to Richmond Valley Council general manager Brian Wilkinson.

The council was bound by a plan of management for the site developed by the NSW Heritage Office when the site was listed with the office in 2004.

Under the plan, aviation use had to continue at the site. It also provides for an aged-care facility on part of the site.

Mr Wilkinson said people were already living beside the aerodrome.

Should the aged care facility be built at the aerodrome site? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.


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