Four of the six candidates standing in the April 8 By-election for the State Seat of Gosford participated in a Gosford Waterfront Alliance community forum on Friday, March 31.
The aim of the forum was to focus on each candidate’s views about the future of the Gosford Waterfront and CBD.
The meeting unanimously moved to pursue the location of a regional performing arts centre on the remaining land at the former Gosford Public School site.
All candidates present committed their support to that resolution.
It is understood Property NSW, the government-owned agency responsible for finding private developers to acquire the former school land, was expected to announce the successful tenderer to acquire the remaining two-thirds of the school site within weeks following the by-election.
The remaining two-thirds includes the land for the NSW Government Finance Department office block, but also a final tranche of vacant land that could be utilised for the community facility.
Mr Andrew Church, candidate for the Christian Democratic Party, and Ms Jilly Pilon, candidate for the Liberal Party, were unavailable to participate in the forum, which was held at the Anglican Church in Mann St, Gosford.
The audience of over 80 residents was addressed by Ms Abigail Boyd for the Greens, Mr Larry Freeman for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, Ms Liesl Tesch for Labor and Ms Skyla Wagstaff for the Animal Justice Party.
Ms Abigail Boyd said she had been frustrated, hopeful and then astounded “at the debacle over where the thing was going to go” in reference to the ever-changing proposed locations for the performing arts centre.
She said the development plans she had seen for the former public school land look “designed to drag the lifeblood out of the area” and that there were “plenty of half vacant buildings in the Gosford CBD” that could be used for the ATO and finance department workers.
Ms Boyd said she believed the current NSW Government had “rushed to find a buyer for the remaining land so it could not be given over to the performing arts centre”.
Ms Tesch called for the current NSW Government to disclose exactly what it intended to do with the remainder of the school land.
She also suggested that the Central Coast Regional Development Corporation should be rebuilt and resourced to take control of the future of the Gosford waterfront with ongoing community consultation.
Mr Freeman and Ms Wagstaff also committed to consulting with and working with the community for the best outcomes on the waterfront.
Mar 31, 2017
Gosford Waterfront Alliance Candidates’ Forum
Jackie Pearson, journalist