10 must haves for Clarence Valley's future
We run the rule over some big ideas for the Clarence Clarence Valley:
DESPITE starting a little behind Casino, the bid by Grafton Chamber of Commerce to create an inter-modal hub in Grafton has a lot going for it.
A hub that serviced Northern NSW would make more sense in Grafton given its access to Gwydir Hwy to move goods inland, and proximity to Pacific Hwy.
The reconstruction of the Grafton Base Hospital and creation of the jail also greatly increase the feasibility of a North Coast hub being created in the Clarence.
FITTING hand in glove with an inter-modal hub would be an industrial zone to service not just the Clarence, but the whole of the North Coast region.
It is no secret Coffs Harbour is a little light on industrial land and Grafton would have a lot to gain by positioning itself as the place to go for all things industrial.
Not only would this create jobs it could help re-balance a local job profile which will be heavily skewed towards the health industry.
High Speed Rail
WHILE the prospect of high speed rail seems to only appear in election years, there will come a time when it becomes a reality and Grafton needs to be ready to make their case for a station from the outset.
It would be a huge coup for the region, potentially bringing travel times to the capital cities to around an hour and a half.
As society begins to accept the realities of climate change, rail will be well positioned to replace intercity flights and it is imperative Grafton does not miss out.
BUILDING a new stadium or significantly upgrading an existing one is a must if the region wants to attract the lucrative one-off sporting events held in regional centres.
While there would be considerable debate around which sports ground should be upgraded, the benefits would flow to the whole community and could allow the area to attract larger regional sporting carnivals, filling accommodation in the process.
IMAGINE free public transport between townships that made our expansive region more accessible to everyone, more facilities to sit and enjoy the beautiful views, and modern housing that keeps track of your health and well-being.
Or, better yet, affordable housing that comes with wisdom and youth. These are just some of the things that age-friendly cities can provide.
With most of the Clarence Valley made up of older residents, why not fully embrace this way of thinking. And the best part? All ages could benefit.
GIVE the people what they want, and overwhelmingly what the Grafton community desires is Kmart.
A branch of the ultra-affordable retail store in Grafton would quench the thirst for "amazing deals".
Tash Longstaff wrote on The Daily Examiner's Facebook page a store in Grafton would be an "awesome opportunity for future employment".
With unemployment a concern, any opportunity to bring in more jobs could help push the Valley ahead.
Grafton CBD Revamp
THERE is a lot more that can be done to reinvigorate the Grafton CBD, but the real concern in the future is going to be parking. Like it or not, the future will probably involve something tall but it need not be overbearing or ugly.
Part of the process should also involve a revamp of the council chambers. Knock the old one down and build something worthy of the 21st century, a companion piece to the riverfront precinct.
Who knows, maybe a building of considerable stature could attract a government department or two.
Redevelopment of the old jail
WHETHER it is a museum dedicated to our equine history or a secure laboratory to test vaccines, at some point a decision will have to be made in regards to the old Grafton jail.
Preferably part, if not all of it will be able to be used by the community in some way and it is up to us to put forward ideas on how best to utilise the site.
Future Clarence think-tank
WHAT if the best and brightest minds in the community came together every so often to come up with ideas on how to move the Clarence Valley forward?
There is potential for the creation of a special body - equal parts business chamber, council, community group and philosophers corner - coming together to come up with answers and ideas for some of the big questions in the community.
Collaboration will often get the best out of people and there is no harm in trying to get people together for a good old fashioned brainstorm.
Tourist drive and integrated cycle path
THE completion of the Pacific Highway will mean the old highway will become a tourist drive and providing an engaging trip along the Clarence will encourage many people to take the exit and opt for the scenic route.
Incorporating the region's history into a scenic drive will go a long way towards setting it apart from other drives on the coast, and it is important the community trades on its rich history as the first city on the North Coast.
Similarly, it would be quite an achievement if a bicycle path could be built along the length of river from Grafton to Yamba. The rail trails in Victoria - bicycle paths along old railway lines - have become immensely popular and it stands to reason if something like that was replicated along such a magnificent river people would flock to it.
This in turn would give a much needed boost to the townships along the river, who could accommodate cycling families on the multi-day ride.