COUNCIL REJECTS PARKING RELIEF
By PETER CATON
TWEED Shire Council believes a partial solution to solving Murwillumbah's parking crisis is worth no more than $100 a year.
Murwillumbah Services Memorial Club offered to allow the council to bitumen-seal three blocks of vacant land in Factory Lane, close to the CBD, and use it as a public car park.
But the council baulked at paying more than $100 a year ? despite the fact the club is required to pay thousands of dollars in rates on the land.
And it insisted in locking the club into the deal for five years when NSW government regulations put a time-limit of three years on leases arranged by club boards.
The plan had been touted by the Murwillumbah District Business Chamber, which holds its meetings in the club, as a way of overcoming the town's car-parking shortage.
Instead the vacant blocks are now being used as an unofficial unsealed car park by just a few motorists.
And the council says the cost of converting it to a sealed temporary car park for three years is simply not warranted, although a five-year lease might have been attractive.
Club manager Guy Diven said yesterday the club required a commercial lease on the land, but was "never given an opportunity to present a rate".
Instead the council offered to pay "a nominal annual fee of $100" and meet survey and legal costs.
Mr Diven said the "door was shut" to further negotiations on the price.
The council also insisted on a five-year lease despite being told the NSW Department of Gaming and Racing only allowed clubs to have leases for three years. Anything above that, Mr Diven said, was regarded as "disposal of land" requiring approval by a meeting of all members.
Such a meeting would most likely be forced to consider other offers which had been made for the land.
"One hundred bucks is a joke," Mr Diven said. "The board has no intention of giving the land away.
"Three years should allow the council to get its multi-storey car park (planned to be built near the Murwillumbah swimming complex) into service."
Council works manager Ian Kite confirmed the council had offered to lease the three blocks for five years at a "peppercorn rent" of $100 a year.
He said developing a sealed pavement required a reasonable amount of investment, but the club had said it wanted a "commercial rate of return" and could only provide a three-year lease.
"On that basis we took the decision it wasn't worth our while to proceed with it," Mr Kite said.
"Five years might have been attractive. Three years wasn't."