Rail or trail or maybe both?
A COMMUNITY meeting aimed at spelling out the fact from the fiction surrounding the proposed Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek rail trail will be held on the Tweed this week.
The meeting, organised by the Murwillumbah and District Chamber of Commerce, will be held on Wednesday from 6-8pm, at the Murwillumbah Services Club.
Michael Simmons, director of popular tourist attraction Mt Warning Tours, is the organiser of the event.
Mr Simmons, who spent more than a decade living in Europe where rail trails are common place, said he was a great supporter of the trail, but said it could exist alongside rail.
Passionate debate has arisen in the community following the recent $6.5 million commitment by the Federal Government to fund the Tweed leg of the rail trail, matching a similar commitment from the NSW Government.
The community appears evenly divided over those who support the rail trail and the tourism dollars it is expected to bring to the shire, while others fear it will permanently rule out any future possibility of bringing rail back to the Tweed.
Mr Simmons said he had decided to call the meeting to help set the record straight on the issue.
"I think there has certainly been a lot of division in the community of Murwillumbah and also of the district as a whole," he said.
"You can see that in views expressed in social media. The problem with social media is some pretty extreme views get presented out there and sometimes they are not necessarily based on fact.
"The meeting is about filling in the information gaps, providing the opportunity for a balanced discussion from a variety of perspectives.
"We are hoping the panel discussion will be able to demonstrate this to businesses and the community.
"This is not going to change any decisions that have been made by Tweed Shire Council, there will be a rail trail, it is fully funded, it will go forward; it is just about how it goes forward and the advantages of on-track formation - and there are many - and the advantages of off-track formation, and there are many there as well, and a combination of the two."
Mr Simmons said the meeting would provide an opportunity to get all of the information out there to the community.
RAILS, TRAILS PUBLIC FORUM:
When: Wednesday, March 14, 6 -8pm
Where: Murwillumbah RSL
RSVP: Via email to events@murwillumbah chamber.com.au
Speakers include: Jane Laverty (Northern Rivers District Business Chamber), Cameron Arnold (Destination North Coast), Geoff Meers (Northern Rivers Rail Trail Secretary), Patrick Knight (NRRT Engineer), Bill Fenelon (Northern Rivers Railway Action Group), Tom Rayner (Civil Engineer), Peter Finch (Tweed Byron Tramways).
The evening will be facilitated by David Freeman (Freemans Organic Farm), a retired Australian Army Colonel, barrister and human rights lawyer.
Questions from the floor will only be accepted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The panel will have seven minutes each speaking time allocated.