Key tourist site’s plan

The long awaited Gleniffer Reserves Master Plan was adopted by council at last week’s monthly meeting with councillor Steve Klipin stating the document was “the gold standard in stewardship”.

The sign-off signalled the end of a lengthy engagement period that saw many community groups, particularly the Gleniffer Community Association (GCA), and individuals offer feedback and thoughts.

The final hurdle for the plan came from Cr David Scott, which delayed the report from January until March, looking at key points not clearly addressed pre- viously.

These were:

– The toilet facilities and car parking at Earl Preston Reserve

The council identified that it would be pertinent to utilise the existing toilet facilities at Gleniffer Hall rather than build a new toilet block (due to the impact on the aesthetics of Earl Preston Reserve and the cost impost in terms of both construction and maintenance).

In response to council’s enquiry around the possibility of re-opening the Gleniffer Hall toilets, the GCA identified issues that need to be discussed and considered by council, but can be dealt with in consultation with the community when the Earl Preston Plan of Management is undertaken.

While car parking infrastructure at Earl Preston Reserve has been proposed by the Master Plan, drainage infrastructure needs to be a key consideration.

– Car parking (including the cattle grid) at Arthur Keogh Reserve

The plan’s consultants have outlined that a pedestrian grid can be installed in place of the cattle grid. This solution provides safe access for pedestrians and alleviates the need for drainage infrastructure.

Council’s inspection of this reserve also identified the potential risk to the public of the electric fence on the northern boundary of this reserve.

The Plan of Management for Arthur Keough Reserve will investigate options to mitigate risks to the public by way of, for example, improved signage.

– Picnic facilities at Angel Gabriel Caparero Reserve

The plan was adjusted to remove picnic tables from this Reserve. Consultants have now proposed that some public seating be installed within the arboretum – which is at a greater distance from the river.

This solution reduces the impact of flood damage yet still provides some public amenity.

The provision of refuse bins throughout the area covered by the Master Plan

The Master Plan now recommends no provision for refuse bins.

Instead, there will be educative prompts for visitors around the responsible management and removal of rubbish from the reserves.

In reviewing, council said, “it is important to note that the Gleniffer Master Plan is an overarching document that primarily provides a vision for the reserves.

“The plan will serve as a guide and reference to ensure there is
continuity and consistency in the way each reserve is managed and developed. While the plan looks at constraints and priorities, it does not aim to establish detailed strategies.

“Specific Plans of Management will need to be prepared for each reserve to ensure appropriate planning and environmental factors are considered.”

In total the Gleniffer Reserves Master Plan will cost council $257,052.

It was devised after the tourist destination’s popularity increased via word of mouth, social media promotion and advertising by local businesses, attracting an increasing number of visitors to the area.

The council report notes:

“The Gleniffer Reserves represent an area of high environmental, social and cultural value.

“The area adjoins Dorrigo National Park, which has World Heritage status. This increasing rate of visitation is having a negative impact on the environment. The plan addresses ways to protect the environment and reduce the impacts from increasing visitation.

“It identifies the need to determine the carrying capacity of each reserve prior to any further mass media promotion of the area.

“The plan outlines ways to influence behaviour of visitors through a range of strategies.”

Alice Burnet | The Bellingen Courier Sun | 30th March 2016