Gravesend and Coolatai communities become proactive

October 31, 2012

The Gravesend and Coolatai communities were congratulated at last week’s Council meeting for showing a lot of spirit in working together to achieve progress for their towns by General Manager, Max Eastcott.

Councillor Egan concurred with Mr Eastcott, saying “They’ve become proactive and we now need to reward them by supporting their request to fund the priorities they have identified.The communities have come up with a list of projects they would like to see undertaken for the enhancement of their towns.

Through the State Government’s Community Building Partnership Grant, council is able to access significant funding for the projects which include extensive improvements at the Gravesend Park and a new kitchen for the Coolatai Sports-ground. The nature of the grant will see council contributing at least dollar for dollar with the government grant.

Gravesend resident, Dan Van Velthuizen told the Advocate that the move to form a community progress group arose out of Council’s community consultative round of meetings in March.

“It was quite obvious that the town’s residents held a dim view of what they were getting from council,” Mr Van Velthuizen said. “It was the first of those meetings I had attended and I came away thinking that the way forward could only be to form a group and work with Council rather than against it.”  Subsequently a public meeting was held in Gravesend on May 31 which saw more than 40 people in attendance.

According to Mr Van Velthuizen, a lot of ideas came out of that meeting which were then prioritised and sent to council. An executive was also elected from the meeting to work with council.

“Gwydir Shire Council has been fantastic,” Mr VanVelthuizen said. “We have received so much advice and support. It has been a really good lesson for people in the community to work with council.”

According to Mr Van Velthuizen, the ultimate goal of his community is to see the Gravesend Convenience Store up and running again. “Our vision is to beautify the town and make it attractive. We are looking at a lot of beautification projects to get people to stop, instead of just driving through,” he said.

“The shop is a service we desperately need and maybe someone in the future will see it as a fantastic opportunity to reopen.”

There are a number of plans being considered to enhance Gravesend’s profile including a bicycle race from Moree to Gravesend, for which prize money has already been offered and a tractor pull event. “We need to create events to make ourselves known,” Mr Van Velthuizen said.

“We’re never going to be a tourist destination but we want to create a nice place to live for ourselves and our children.”The next event on the Gravesend calendar is a Christmas celebration on December 8.