Strange Visions

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Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 11/08/2012 - 11:26am

Another open letter to the Coffs Coast Advocate:

Dear Sir,

As visions go, the notion that Coffs Harbour residents and visitors would not only choose to spend time sitting on a narrow strip of sand bordering a car park but also - curiously - enjoy the experience, is quite a doozie. One can only speculate at the provenance of this vision. It's too bizarre even to blame on a bedtime slice of cold pizza, and the apparent assertion that it is the result of a log of claims presented by Advocate "journos, clickies, subs, sales staff and admin folk" to management is, to put it mildly, somewhat implausible.

The only actual human being I can find that you've yet cited as supporting the "opening up" of the Jetty foreshores to transform it from mere beach into "a major economic driver" is "trustee of The Observatory holiday units, Neil Manson" who, as you point out, "has a unique vantage point"; also, it must be said, a comparatively rare if not actually unique economic interest not shared by the majority of Coffs Harbour residents. I confess to being mildly curious as to who else constitutes the enormous grassroots demand for your proposed Bogan Boulevarde.

Well to be honest, like anybody who's lived here for more than a few years, I am under no illusions as to how such harrowingly concrete-centric visions have been planned and executed in the past, who has benefited, and the Advocate's role in this process as cheerleader for the development of vital and cherished civic assets like multi-story carparks. Pun intended; I mean, what carpark isn't important enough for it's mere existence to warrant multiple stories in a newspaper?

What rankles is that the absence of even a token effort to pull together a mildly credible astroturf lobby group that we can all pretend is the source of your latest vision feels like an insult to the intelligence of all concerned. Our community certainly does not lack coachable but otherwise inarticulate and intellectually inert drongos, and the claim that vegetation causes drug abuse and illicit sexual behaviour shows that you have the necessary wellspring of idiocy to fuel such a campaign. I've heard a lot of excuses from people caught in the act of socially transgressive behaviour, but "the trees made me do it!" is breathtakingly inventive. Bravo!

Anyway, to prove I'm not merely a negative Nelly, I have a positive alternative vision for you to take up and run with should you wish. It seems to me that if there's anything in the Jetty precinct that would benefit from "opening up" through the judicious application of a wrecking ball, it's the hideous mini-mall on the corner of Harbour Drive and Orlando Street. Rehousing the tenants of this complex in a new row of street level shops to match the existing and very attractive ones on the opposite side of the road could hardly be a less contentious plan; after all, you would just be replacing some shops with some shops. Nobody loses, and Coffs has one eyesore less!

I confess that I am not a wealthy landlord or property developer, nor do I represent any in my day to day business, or on Thursday evenings in Council, but I am at least willing to go on the record as the genuine author of this vision. How about it?

Matthew Davidson.