“CCS as planned is for a small group of people” – Nikki Williams

Something I believe that is worth discussion on the CCS building is that I think the CCS in its current form is for a small group of people.

By Nikki Williams – Together We’ll Fix it candidate for CHCC

I don’t at all believe anyone is disputing the importance of a great library and updated cultural facilities.

The issue i see is the economic value, AKA bang for our buck. $81.5M bucks is a hell of a lot of money.

Personally I feel we could be getting a hell of a lot more for that kind of cash than when we currently are.

We need a new updated library for every reason stated but personally I think this is the wrong place. Supporters talk about families for story time , support services for NDIS and also pensioners yet their argument for no adequate parking is that 400m is reasonable to expect people to walk.

For these community groups I just don’t agree with that.

Keeping on the topic of the library I have heard one councillor especially talk about disadvantaged youth using this library, I just don’t see these guys feeling at home and comfortable in this building as proposed.

To me the library should have been stand alone.

Grafton got a brand new library 100% funded from the Federal Government.

Why could we not have had the same?

Too narrowly focussed? Headed for Glass House status?

It could have been at Brelsford Park surrounded by trees and parklands for mums and pensioners to enjoy through the day but also part of the youth hub we have created with the skate park. I would go as far to say we could put head space in the building and call it a learning centre or something new instead of just a library.

The Museum should be at City Hill at the Bunker.

Let’s fix our issues. The Cartoon Gallery and the Museum both struggle, why not join them together?

It seems almost criminal to have the history of a war bunker without a museum around it? There is also plenty of space there to attach a tourist info centre and parking for our grey nomads. Driving traffic to the cartoon galley museum and the cafe. Three birds one stone.

Next we have the council offices. The staff I have spoken to don’t want hot desking and have voiced their concerns to executives with no avail on many occasions.

Castle Street is a gorgeous building and was made specifically to add 2 stories on, costing way less than what is proposed. I honestly see no argument here.

That leaves Gordon street and the Art Gallery.

I’m not going to lie I’m no artist and the Gallery is not somewhere I frequent.

That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it’s worth it just means I don’t feel I have a right to comment.

For Gordon Street though I’d like to see something like our old civic centre.

Not a $50M CHEV that our local dance and drama schools can’t afford to use. A simple community building with the council chamber ( not office’s) attached. A building for the people. A place where councillors have to come to use for meetings not us to them.

The way we are going we are going to end up with an over priced council office and library plus a replica of the glass house that is too big, yet too small and no one can afford to use, and $150M+ in debt.


The above is a social media release fly Nikki Williams of the Together We’ll Fix It Team 15 November 2021.

CCO will publish all media releases sent to it in relation to the LGA elections on December 4 so long as they meet legal requirements.

Email: [email protected]

13 thoughts on ““CCS as planned is for a small group of people” – Nikki Williams

    1. Teena, I believe that it may be possible to change the building’s plans in order to remove the council offices, and add to the areas given over to cultural pursuits. Any additional costs arising may be defrayed by applying for grants which the inclusion of the council offices prevented.

    2. Why not have one last crack at this.

      Where does the CCS-idea currently exist? Two places, really. Mostly, on paper — and in peoples’ heads.

      Can it be stopped? Yes. It can.

      Dealing with the paper matters, you have contracts and design plans. The best of the latter can be pulled out and re-applied in an alternative design, such as using the fundamental structural elements and any elements within those. Contracts can be re-done through negotiation by re-wiring them. So long as signees benefit, you’re on. The following down below achieves that.

      Written into those contracts is the leverage that the idea they are trying to concretise wasn’t wanted by a massive swathe in the community: that every party entered into those contracts with full knowledge the community by and large didn’t want it, was grossly unhappy, with the ink going onto them when an election was in sight. Every signature on them is shaky with that knowledge.

      The contracts may not even be that solid. There may be nothing on paper for the larger part of the idea, other than perhaps an overall net-casting attempt to try to cover it. The bank loan can be re-negotiated. As relayed previously: “When you borrow $200,000 from a bank, you have a problem. When you borrow $20 million from a bank, the bank has a problem.” $50 mil the moreso. No bank is going to send their name to mud by holding fast.

      We don’t even know, in fact, if the loan came through. There may still be issues with it that need to be dealt with, while McGrath is powerless until the new council sits.

      The proposal of the three-point precinct plan provides a way forward contractually that smooths that re-negotation process, giving signees a beneficial way forward, but more on that in a sec.

      Contracts aren’t the problem. The harder problem is what’s in peoples’ heads.

      This is a community that has been onslaughted with everything Knight and McGrath could throw at us. A lot of people are sick to bloody death of the sound of the thing’s mention.

      I’ll put it here like this. Once a new council gets in there, a whole new world opens up. Power over it is reclaimed. Energies and expectations are refreshed, vitally.

      That feeling within the community right now is difficult to imagine into life. Get the votes right, though, and that feeling is coming.

      So what can become of the idea — which is still what the project is. An idea, or, rather, a sort of vomitous collage, largely abstract, of ideas.

      This comment still possibly has a reader if this is to become of it: put it back to the people. A new council, refreshed, clarifying the openness of the project to alteration, change and cessation says to the community: “Right. Well, that was a shitfight, but it’s over. We have a carpark, what do you want on top of it?”

      I’ll lose that reader, probably, when at this sick-to-death-of-it time presenting what I reckon should go on top of it. So here is where Julian and CLB’s earlier idea, along with Tom, and an inspiring candidate or two, look like holding the likely option. You can have your civic centre.

      You can also have your upgraded library there, and possibly a museum, though why the latter has to be in that location is wildely up for grabs, one would have thought. Mod cons notwithstanding.

      That would put a library there, a civic centre there, and a heap of airspace above to fill with whatever you want to come up with.

      And I really think that’s what’s gong to end up happening on Gordon St.

      But being a last attempt, I may as well go out, or down, rather, in flames.

      I’d question if a make-do alteration is the best thing to do. I’d question the fundamental premise that a library has to be located in a CBD. What is this belief built on? “That’s the way we always did it?” It is, in many communities, and that’s a small town way of looking at where a library has to go.

      “Get your frozen peas in the supermarket and then get your book.”

      Libraries are changing now. As Australia grows in cultural understanding, being ever so far behind from the outset and up until really only the last couple of decades, libraries are more and more becoming integrated into that greater understanding of cultural development.

      We have to be careful here, too, because the true terms that are used to describe and inset in community mind what precisely we’re talking about have been hijacked and abused.

      “Cultural development” means much more than library, gallery and museum. That to me points to the brilliant light on the hill. A true cultural precinct. And that’s where a library, in that vision, would go. You go there in the day time, lift your heart in celebration with the richness of true cultural facilities, much of it harnessed from within the community itself, and in that enriched and enriching precinct that’s where you hang out. Nothing to do with a bloody government presence.

      Freed of that make-do traditional small town way, that would mean Gordon St can become a money-pulling exercise. A housing or aged care development, take the profits from a disaster, and use it to help rebuild the region’s amenity.

      For the last time, the solution exists in the example set by Russell Crowe. A dedicated precinct. Of world class amenity.

      In this region’s case, we can have three. A government precinct to last long into the future, obtained by working with the State Govt (not against it) to combine its outreach operation with the local. Very tasteful, and pretty damn cool. A (true) cultural precinct. And a development precinct, crystal clear, commercially profitable to clear up the mess and get us moving forward. Three, clean and pure and profitable and massively beneficial.

      That, to me, is basic commonsense.

      Back to the problem being of and ‘in peoples’ heads’. Get this. We have one mayoral candidate, one only, who has the insight and fortitude during this campaigning to put the CCS-idea on the table. One. Can you believe it?

      In the semi-nutcase world within which I mostly exist, candidates would be fighting kung fu katas replete with unsync speeches they’d be so keen and excited to deal with the CCS for the community, that being its biggest issue.

      So why aren’t they? I think, in part, it’s because the community has had its head done in, and just wants it over. And, I think, because mayoral candidates in the main haven’t experienced what a true cultural development is, and does. These are certainly showing no signs of it.

      The big wall facing us, folks, isn’t what Mud Pie McGrath has tried to throw together. Big terms, big words, big — imagined and fantasy — build up. That, all of it, will get washed away quickly once we live in the near future new-world of a new council. In real terms, he’s built a carpark.

      Let’s say that again. In real terms, he’s built a carpark.

      The big wall, the problem and point-of-no-return that we think and feel we’re up against, is in our own heads.

      All I can valuably suggest is that, too, will change. That inner, imagined wall we’re up against will vanish. Flourishing refreshing thinking is coming. Provided, that is, we get the votes right.

      Let’s just say for now, to end on a note of appropriate-to-the-project charm, every time you see a crane, try to imagine instead up whose arse it’s going.

      1. Thank you 40c. Like you, I believe that there is hope for the resurrection of the idea of a most welcome cultural precinct, and one which has so much potential for community-focussed development, once the accursed council offices have been removed from the plan.

      2. Ah gee, the reference was too oblique. Was hoping a bit that highly celebrated former CHCC Councillor, Sandy Stone, may have been remembered by at least one of you, as Cr Stone deserves to be, for the lasting influence he had in building Coffs Harbour’s national cultural identity, and reputation, a memory triggered in the comment by mention of frozen peas.

        No need to worry. His formative mindset lived feverishly within this outgoing council, being the defining force behind that council’s striving for cultural excellence through the provision of facilities, and being the mindset that determines why a library, and indeed the full monty reaching to the fullest width and breadth of any council’s grandest aspiration, being an art gallery, no less, and — amazing — a museum, has to be situated in a flood zone of council’s similarly superbly-planned CBD.

        Here is the great man being interviewed on national television shortly before his retirement from CHCC public service, and wherein you can get but a glimpse of that powerful, formative mindset.

        Think of the CCS, and you can hear his voice, and remember him, still, defining, unbelievably, to this day.

        A councillor ever for the times. Upon Cr Sandy Stone’s memory, now, the horrible realisation has struck. Perhaps we’ve all got it wrong. May his ideal project be built!

  1. Let me also have a crack at changing this carpark.
    How about a much needed “Tourist Information Center” with a lot of backpacker apartments above this could be a win win, and make it a profit earning Building, then we could concentrate on putting the Library and the Museum etc at City Hill where they should be.

    1. Very out of date with these figures, Bill; be good to see where it’s now up to. It used to be that families came to Coffs to holiday with more money to spend, compared with backpackers, yet mums and dads went home with their bank account largely intact, keeping an eye on their immediate future, whereas backpackers went home broke, having lived it up. They spent a lot more. I expect that’s what you’re onto.

      Your idea would help revitalise the CBD, if it got up. The difference between our views here is that the State Govt plays a positive and welcoming (by them) role in helping to create three precincts, with Gordon St being used to solve housing or aged care. The State is also helping Russell’s plan on the cultural front, and then why not also put heads together for future local govt offices in the government precinct. On the latter, the local govt component need not immediately be built, only to have that pathway forward with a place for council to one day go.

      Your idea goes straight to the commercial potential of the property, too, which cannot be ignored as the most compelling CCS-idea solution there is, so it’s good to see it in the mix. Wipe the thing clean at the level of the carpark, return a profit, and leave the new owner to go forward unencumbered.

  2. Innovative thoughts abound. I’ll fly my kite, as well.

    Would it be feasible to create low-cost residential spaces in the CBD, suitable to long staying low-income earners and thrifty tourists, supplemented by the provision of free electric bus transport between the CBD and the Jetty beaches? Might such a plan help to revitalise the dormant city centre?

    1. Great idea, Julian! The low-income earners and thrifty tourists could be co-located in the Emerald Palace to fill the empty spaces formerly reserved for council offices.

      I’m sure they will make good use of the museum and library and will be warmly welcomed by the Friends of Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery at their regular chardonnay and hor d’oeuvres nights.

      1. Charlie, I’d like to think the Parsnip could be re-imagined as a cultural centre which caters for the performing arts as well.

        My thinking re low-cost housing was more focussed on utilising vacant or under-utilised spaces in the CBD. I don’t know what the occupancy rates for commercial buildings are, but I’m guessing that there would be some which could be re-purposed for development as housing – I’m talking about large commercial spaces which may be currently costing their owners money, or even suitability-sized office areas which are empty.

        I wonder if having a decent backpackers’ hostel, or something similar, located in the CBD, might encourage an increase in entertainment venues in the city centre, for young people. I’m not a town planner, but surely there must be some way to re-invigorate the centre, since, despite all of Knight’s hype, the Parsnip will never do it.

        Maybe Mr Adendorff, who probably knows the CBD very well, could make some suggestions.

  3. Right. Enough. Flames it is.

    Rather, utterly irrelevent. More like a wet lettuce, given the mud we’re in. This period of five years of CHCC operation has set us back a decade, but worse, it’s diminished the regional conversation. That’s unforgiveable.

    Look at us. Screaming out for some commonsense, as a start, then trying to build on top of that a new direction forward, with the entire conversation focused on this idea for a single building.

    What we should be talking about is better than this. But we have to, to clean it up.

    Bringing up Sandy Stone was no joke. When the minds that were born for it, during the period when Australia began looking at itself, as a cultural identity, those minds found little and what it did find was repulsive. So they left. Off to London where their thoughts would be met in camaradarie, their expression accepted. It was an exodus of talent.

    One didn’t. Barry Humphries’ mind stayed behind and looked instead into the suburbs of Australia. Into the heartland of who and what we, then, ‘are’. (As “Settled Australians”, culturally.)

    His creation, Alexander Horace “Sandy” Stone, is I think one of the greatest works of art Australia has produced. Not of the later indulgences that shout “look at me” that a so-called artist produces these days, like a child seeking self-attention, where the real art is in the marketing. This was a work of art that said, as true art does, “look at us.”

    Humphries built a mirror. And we didn’t like it, at the time. So he left, too. Many still don’t like what he did; cannot bear to look.

    It was and is social commentary at its most cutting.

    That Sandy Stone is the spiritual Father of Coffs Harbour’s Cultural Development is also no joke. But fear not, don’t take it personally, Coffs Harbour is not alone. It’s not just about us. The broader country was and still is the dominion of Sandy and Beryl.

    It is the spirit of Clr Sandy Stone which inspired the CCS idea, where the most basic cultural facilities imaginable are considered an enlightened achievement by a council so full of Sandy they too dare not look, nor could and can’t. For that character is bereft of self-reflection. So full of Sandy and Beryl Stone that CHCC massacred even those basics.

    Basics which we already had, in most basic form.

    2021. Trying to clean up a building. Of the basics.

    That’s what Steve McGrath and Denise Knight have done for us.

    So why say it yet again? Because this election is an election of lessons. Because I think it’s important to closely understand what’s happened. What’s been done.

    So that we never do it again.

    The fear and the temptation (because it’s easy) is that we will, however, do it again. That we’ll choose make-do over what can be achieved with brilliance and courage.

    For a regional city to be in this state, where we are trying to clean up the basics of “cultural development” and then somehow make something of it, in the form of a single building, in this year of 2021, when cities of our size all over the world are flourishing creatively, culturally, across their government-built expanses, surely tells us that it’s time to lurch our heads up from the mud and begin to lift our eyes.

    So here’s the flames. What we need is a vision for the city, for the region. Yes, we have to clean up the mess. And yes we can acknowledge that the region and this city in particular needs a true vision, and a true plan.

    Or re-plan, that is. Throw your mind thirty or forty years into the future, and what do you see? The CBD still being the suck-hole focus of energies and given talents and resources.

    Make-do everywhere you look, in forty years, from the Plaza to the Jetty to the little old High St ribbon development over-spill. That’s what we’re headed for.

    Then, it is too late. That’s it. That’s Coffs Harbour, and by it, defined forever. That’s not a place deserving of the opportunity we have, nor the talents within it now, as we make our decisions, nor will have as more moves in.

    They’ll move in, still, for the natural beauty, not for any governed-built environment. Unless, that is, we see that future as a place we can choose not to be.

    Let’s go to a better future. Let’s put Sandy and Beryl to rest. Let’s get ourselves a General Manager from three times our population, of worldly sophistication, who’s been there and done it, and done it properly.

    Three days, folks, and that new General Manager would ‘get’ it. She or he would know what has to be done and how to go about doing it. And do it with you. And with you loving it.

    That has to be a first step, after the cleaning up. (I’m hoping the clean up is placed within the greater context, the greater plan, but that’s idealism, acknowledged.) A new General Manager of excellence and proven high achievement. How they’d love to be here and do it!

    Then, into the real flames, let’s move the CBD. An eighty year plan. Three generations.

    How about westward? As Australian governments of all levels continue this metamorphosis into a blended corporate amalgam, so too we could blend into the private. Do deals with land owners for where the future plan of the city, especially a CBD, re-envisioned, can live.

    (It may be of interest to some that the notion of a CBD is no longer a living relevance in sophisticated cities of the world. They don’t want a CBD, let alone re-plan one. It’s what these have built is to what I’m referring, but we’ll call it CBD for the sake of a wet lettuce comment.)

    Offer incentives, to those large land-holds to the west, or wherever, and then to CBD property owners, to move out of the flood, out of the choke, the ribbon development over-spill, into a planned zone that functions properly. With properly designed arterial transit, suitable no matter the type of vehicle that’ll also come.

    Look for the deal, council and landholder(s), and do it. Want to go now? A CBD property owner? Want to move into a properly planned environment, such as the best in the world has done, and be released from this endless current struggle? Give them the incentive.

    Wow. Look at that. New buildings in the new area. Exciting.

    Three generations. Today’s CBD property owner, wanting to bestow a lifetime’s effort to the kids, is comforted by knowing the kids will have that property as is. That the kids can grow up and move into the new world, and make the decision to move, through those generations as they wish.

    Out of the floods, out of the choke, out of the old and the unworking. Use those floods, instead, to create an extraordinary water garden where today you sandbag your shop. A water garden that in normal times is a walking parkway of peace and charm and healing, and fun and activity.

    These are the conversations we should be having. These are the exciting and inspiring directions and opportunities this region deserves, by respect of our natural gifts. And our location, betwixt Sydney and Brisbane as these, too, choke and struggle to capture what we have now, right now, by way of real-life opportunity at our feet.

    Shall we lift our eyes?

    How about it. Clean up the mess, but let’s do it with a view to getting to that better future, step by step. We won’t get there by committing talents and resources and big money into an area that is fundamentally defunct, money spent that binds and constricts us, and points us away from where we could better live.

    1. 40c, once the current swamp has been drained and the council’s financial situation clarified to the extent that ratepayers can understand it, how would you feel about the appointment of Dr. Sir Leslie Colin Patterson, wit, sage, raconteur, late Cultural Attaché to the Court of St James and Chairperson of the Australian Chapter of the International Cheese Board, as the man responsible for bringing true culcha to Coffs?
      I believe that an approach to his personal manager, Mr Humphries, might be well received.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Coffs Coast Outlook - Your alternative Coffs Coast voice
+ +