Opinion | Strategy is paving the way for infrastructure in Port Stephens

As many in our community are aware, Council’s Nelson Bay Strategy has been on exhibition now for six weeks or so.

It has generated plenty of interest and a little controversy along the way. I’ve personally had hundreds of  conversations with people from all walks of life about the plan’s aspirations and objectives, its merits and its flaws.

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer

Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer

I’ve been listening very closely to the debate, as have my fellow councillors and key staff. And we’ve thought long and hard about our approach and the rationale behind the strategy.

We are committed to working with the community on this.

From where I sit, we seem to have reached consensus on most aspects of the strategy, however the debate around building heights remains contentious.

We acknowledge that and understand that compromise may be required to help us deliver the town we all deserve.

One thing that we can’t back away from, however, is the need to accept that change will happen.

The investment stagnation that has afflicted the Bay is not something that will fix itself. Only by being positive and proactive can we turn this situation around.

I know there are some people who don’t want change of any kind. They want Nelson Bay to retain the sleepy fishing village character that comes to life a few times a year during holiday periods. But more and more, we are hearing the broader community asking for investment in key projects.

Investment in our public spaces, particularly the waterfront and town centre, increased health care facilities, more parking infrastructure, better roads, footpaths and cycleways. They want a TAFE or University campus and enhanced signage and digital services.

These things are important and warranted and will make the Bay a more attractive, liveable place. But they won’t happen without significant public and private investment in our town.

A growing, vibrant Nelson Bay with a bustling town centre that is high on energy and cultural activity, and low on pessimism, is a town that I want to help create.

A town that people want to live, work and play in. A place where they will find employment and be enticed to raise their family in.

I’m confident we can achieve this and bring the community along with us.

- Ryan Palmer, Mayor of Port Stephens