Marina plan a 'catalyst' for cleaning up the river
Tuesday 2.27pm: THE adoption of the Ballina Marina Master Plan has prompted the region's State Government representatives to throw their support behind future development at the West Ballina Trawler Harbour.
Ballina MP Tamara Smith and North Coast parliamentary secretary Ben Franklin praised the move by Ballina Shire Council to adopt the plan.
The pair said they would be more than willing to explore and assist with potential project proposals for the precinct.
Ms Smith said she would "support anything that is going to any amenity on (the Richmond) river" with the hope it would also bolster efforts to rejuvenate the health of the waterway.
She said the council's unanimous vote to adopt the plan was "really good for the town" and expressed the need to bolster existing facilities.
Mr Franklin said it's a matter of wait and see in terms of what proposals could be tabled to Ballina Shire Council and from there, how the government could assist a potential project.
He said he would be "really happy to help" in "anyway to clear away red tape to support investment" for the shire.
Depending on the proposal, Mr Franklin said the government could assist in various ways such as returning the land to council from Crown lands.
Tuesday 11.05am: BALLINA Shire Council's decision to adopt its marina master plan has opened up a huge opportunity to transform one of the shire's boating precincts.
Ballina Fishermens Co-op chief executive, Phil Hilliard, one of the stakeholders of the West Ballina trawler harbour, said council's move to adopt the plan "ticks a number of boxes" that would have been difficult to achieve by a single private entity.
Plans finalised by council last week include nearly doubling the harbour precinct to provide about 100 berths, additional boat ramps as well as commercial and residential buildings.
He said the co-op is trying to partner with a number of interested parties to help get the plan off the ground and he is confident there is a groundswell of support, private and from the state government to transform the precinct.
"There's a lot of good will out there to get it done." Mr Hilliard said.
Ballina Mayor David Wright agrees and said developing the harbour would be a "great investment for the future of Ballina" in a bid to put it on the map as a major marine destination.
While the council doesn't own the site, the master plan stated it has "a long standing interest in its potential redevelopment and the economic benefits that could be derived from expanded marine infrastructure in the shire".
Cr Wright said extensive community consultation and studies of the site resolved initial community hesitation about the redevelopment, in particular the construction of high rises.
In its motion, the council indicated its "strong preference that any development comply with the existing building heights policy, as part of the Master Plan".
He said Ballina MP Tamara Smith and North Coast Parliamentary Secretary Ben Franklin have also thrown their support behind the plan.
Both Ms Smith and Mr Franklin were contacted for comment by the Northern Star.
Future development of the precinct could fast track the clean up of the Richmond River, Mr Hilliard said.
Mr Hilliard said the future development and influx of commercial and recreational visitors could be "the catalyst for cleaning up" the river by pressuring council and State Government to increase efforts to revitalise the waterway.
In the 2014 Ecohealth Report by the University of New England, the Richmond River graded the waterway's health at D-, or poor.