Park residents unsure of future
TIME is running out for the tenants of Lismore Tourist Caravan Park, with residents due to vacate by January 18.
Most of the tenants who were leasing vans at the park have now left, with only around 12 long-term residents and six short-term tenants remaining.
Park manager Mark Gooley said the current lessee, Ashley Cooper, intends to auction off vans being leased by short-term residents on January 28.
"Mr Cooper wants to auction off his vans and cabins and assets in the park so we're auctioning everything off through Ian Weir and Son."
Doug Kelly, 77, who has lived at the caravan park for 25 years, said residents who own their own vans were still hoping to stay.
"The people who own their own accommodation, whether it be a caravan or Kombi or bus, they own it and as far as we understand when the new management comes in we will be able to stay here," he said.
"We're waiting to get that in writing from the new management or the council or both."
But council workers have previously stated that under regulations residents are not supposed to stay in the park for more than 150 days and the park was built to cater to tourists not permanent residents.
Residents lives were put at risk when the park was badly damaged by flood in May 2009.
Council community services coordinator Annie McWilliam agreed the situation was difficult for residents such as Mr Kelly.
"It must feel very hard for him because it's been his community for 25 years but the risk of flood is of great concern to council," she said.
"Most significantly and concerning, the caravan park is on a flood plain. Many of the vans and buses owned by residents of the park are not roadworthy so they are at risk in a flood.
When the new lessee takes over they will be able to stay for a limited time but their vans will have to be roadworthy and movable."
St Vincent De Paul homeless outreach worker Leanne Gilchrist said the park had "fallen into a state of disrepair" but was one of the few places marginalised people in Lismore could find accommodation.
"A lot of people are there because they weren't able to get private rental properties and they either weren't able to get housing assistance or they were waiting for it," she said.
While the remaining residents hoped to stay in their homes, Ms Gilchrist said some have been able to secure better housing.
SHOULD LONG TERM RESIDENTS HAVE TO LEAVE THE PARK?