The Riveria car park next to the old Lismore Club.
The Riveria car park next to the old Lismore Club. Jacklyn Wagner

Repairs cause councillors grief

LISMORE councillor Vanessa Ekins can’t understand why council is considering tearing down the historic Lismore Club to resolve parking problems.

Nor can she understand why the owners of the Westlawn building simply can’t use spaces in the Riveria car park next to the club until new garages can be built for them in the Hensley car park.

“It’s just wrong to tear an old building down for car parks,” Cr Ekins said. “It’s just not an option.”

“They (the Westlawn garages) are not even being used. I was down there at lunchtime and there were three cars in the 23 garages and it also looks like some are being sub-leased.”

As reported last week, the council is considering four options to repair the city’s levee, with the most viable being to demolish the club to overcome problems with car-parking spaces.

Project engineer Bill Morehouse said the history of the car spaces dates back years when the club building was purchased by the owner of the Westlawn building who sub-divided the site and attached the 23 garages to the Westlawn title.

This legally allowed the owner to lease Westlawn, currently to theDepartment of Health, with garages.

Repairing the levee means demolishing the garages, requiring compensation to the owner.

At first it was thought council could simply swap car spaces in nearby Hensley car park in exchange for Westlawn’s. However, the classification of Hensley’s makes this illegal.

Cr Ekins would like to see a deal struck with Westlawn for them to use other council-owned car spaces until the draft LEP is gazetted, which would allow for the swap to go ahead.

The owner of Westlawn is said not to be supportive of this idea, so Mr Moorehouse and his team from Richmond River County Council thendeveloped Option 2.

This would involve the relocation of five of Westlawn’s garages outside the levee and eight inside, plus a small public parking area between the levee and the club.

However, this created problems with sub-divisions for Westlawn and didn’t provide a large enough turning circle for the public. It also meant another levee gate.

After the more expensive Option 3, which included heavy piling of thelevee, was ruled out engineers turned to Option 4.

This involves knocking down the club and would have the additional benefits of being cheaper and creating additional public parking spaces.

However, Cr Ekins is unconvinced of the need to save, or create new car parks.

She said recent council trafficstudy found that at any time throughout the day there were 360 empty car spaces in the CBD.

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