BANGALOW residents who packed into a hall to learn about a proposed development in the town last night were described as "parochial" and "afraid of change".
The charge came from a young woman from New York in a passionate if ill-judged speech to the 100 or so people in the RSL Hall in Station St - where the retail/residential project is also sited.
In urging the townspeople to accept "this beautiful building", she was echoing the sentiments of an even younger man (they both gave their ages) who was born in Bangalow, and was a student of architecture, including for some time at Columbia University, also in New York City.
Having provided these credentials, the man endorsed the three-storey shop and unit block which will take up much of an almost 1200sq m site next to the A&I Hall as fitting in with an ideal "intricate" urban development for the street, which would mirror how people lived in European cities.
Other speakers, responding to the opening outline of the project from its planner, Paul de Fina, were not so enthusiastic.
The size and scale of the building gave several people a cause for concern - and Mr De Fina's comparing it to the reconstruction job of the Urban, for which he and architectural designer Ron Johnson were also responsible, did little to assuage their fears.
Station St needed to remain low-level, one speaker said, and not be a copy of the main street.
Others were concerned at the precedent the $3.5m construction would set for the street, as there are plans in place for more large scale construction on the other side, reaching back to the area behind the pub and including, one claimed, a "piazza".
Josh Rogers, the president of the Bangalow school P&C, and another parent at the school, said they feared that Station Lane, at the rear of the building and leading in to its 18 underground parks, would become dangerous for school children crossing to use one of several halls in the street.
Mr De Fina said there was a likelihood that speed bumps would be installed in the street but that anyway the units were likely to be occupied by older people, who would not be using their cars much but would "walk up to the Post office".
However, he said in response to a question, there was no guarantee who would buy the units, nor for what purpose.
Mr De Fina today said he believed an increase in traffic was the only grievance that potentially had any validity and that he intended to engage a traffic engineer to determine whether the pedestrian safety concerns were legitimate.
He said if the concerns proved warranted then they would "be looking at solutions and trying to find alternatives".
Public submissions on the project are open until January 31.
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