Unsettling debate over van park
LISMORE Tourist Caravan Park resident Neil Allan lost everything when chest-high flood waters swirled through his home during last year’s flood.
He got most back in compensation and decided to stay where he has lived for the past two years, but about 80 per cent of the park’s 100-odd residents have since left.
Now the caravan park itself may be on the move.
Following one of the recommendations of a report into the flood, Lismore councillors will vote on Tuesday night to investigate options of moving the park which is once again full of long and short-term residents.
“Getting out of here would be really good,” Mr Allan said.
“As long as we are all looked after and the location is similar to this one. A lot of us are on medical programs and we have to go up to the hospital for various reasons so it wouldn’t be too cool if they relocated to out near the airport. It would be too far to walk.”
The recovery report released in October last year warned the park posed an ‘ongoing unacceptably high safety risk for long-term residents’.
“An incident with similar characteristics (to the May evacuation) is highly likely to be repeated unless decisive action is taken,” it warned.
It suggested two options: Build a levee around the park, which could push flood-water into the CBD, or move the park itself.
Councillor Simon Clough, who is proposing the motion to move the park at Tuesday’s council meeting said a similar one was passed by the Floodplain Management Committee in late December.
“Tuesday’s motion reflects the committee’s deep concern that the flooding of the caravan park in May 2009 not be repeated,” he said.
It is not the first time the council has investigated moving the park to safe ground.
Council scouted for sites in 2005 but said it was problematical due to the need to find a suitable site close to the CBD, the cost of relocation and community acceptance of the new site.
Still, council staff comment in Tuesday night’s business paper that ‘nevertheless it is timely to revisit the issue and a report on the matter is the appropriate mechanism to bring it forward again’.
The caravan park’s owner Ashley Cooper, who leases the site from the council, could not be contacted yesterday.