Caravan owner hits out at park boss: 'He should be ashamed'
THURSDAY 10.45am: A LONG time van owner at the Evans Head Caravan Park said she cannot understand why the NSW Crown Holiday Park Trust (NSWCHPT) is displacing all its loyal residents when they make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year just having patrons vans on site.
Holiday van owners pay a sum each year to have their vans at the holiday park which has steadily increased since the trust took over, to a current fee of approximately $7000.
"People think the onsite vans are there for nothing, but we are not," she said.
"Ever since (the NSWCHPT) took over, we started off at about $5500 a year and it has gradually been increasing."
"When I first went there 34 years ago they told us that by law, as it was Crown land, there had to be so many camping sites, 120 onsite vans and the permanent residents."
"If they had of kept 120 onsite vans they would be getting $850,000 year for nothing."
According to this van owner, the NSWCHPT said they wish to remove all current holiday van owners to make way for new facilities to accommodate for customers coming from the Gold Coast.
"Why should I get off there, to let the Gold Coast people come down to take it, my money is as good as theirs."
"To be told 'you've been there for 30 years, you've had your time', who limits time? Does it mean to say that if you're 80 you've had your time you can die?"
The overwhelming response on social media is that the local community is distressed and disappointed with the Trust, and have felt like their wishes have been ignored.
"We don't want all that over the top stuff there, we like a casual caravan park, everyone saunters around, they know each other, why would we want something over the top?"
"That fellow to claim that he is a local, from the Richmond Valley area, well he should be ashamed of himself to admit it."
WEDNESDAY 1.45pm: PREVIOUSLY upgraded parks in the Northern Rivers have seen a significant increase in year round occupancy under the NSW Crown Holidays Parks Trust (NSWCHPT).
Owners believe this result will also be reflected post the Evans Head Caravan Park refurbishment.
NSWCHPT CEO, Steve Edmonds, said prior to the upgrades of the other sites, the holidays parks would only be occupied by van owners 15 to 20% of the year.
"What we find is if we convert that to a power site, we reduce that right down," Mr Edmonds said.
"In the Evans Head park for example our power sites are achieving 52 to 60% occupancy, meaning they are only vacant 40% of the time and for a cabin it's 75 to 80% occupancy."
"Alternate provisions within the park means that more people can enjoy the site at greater times during the year."
Evans Head caravan owners have been asked to vacate the park by September 28 to make way for the Trust to begin construction of their Masterplan, with stage 1 set to begin in the next few months.
"With our redevelopment, at Evans Head, we got a significant amount of open space in the middle of the park that adjoins the river and we're doing some renovation this coming financial year," Mr Edmonds said.
"We will be spending $9 million on the park and over three years $14.5 million."
"We are renovating the kiosk, the public park and the commons grounds are going to be upgraded, there's going to be a small play area at the river side, the permanent residents are going to be brought in a central precinct and then we are going to do some significant landscaping as well."
Mr Edmonds said he understands that the community is upset about the changes to the park as he has a special affinity with the region having grown up in Richmond Valley precinct.
"I know the area pretty well, I use to go to Evans Head when I was a kid because I went to Richmond River High School."
"A lot of the people that visit this park come from the area that I use to live in, so it gives me a better understanding of the issues and the ownership."
"People from these regions are really passionate about local facilities so that makes us really sensitive those requirements."
The Trust said van owners that are having to vacate the premises now will be given the opportunity to re-book their site and continue to enjoy the park as a visiting guest.
"We've found that up to 75% in other parks, previous holiday van owners have actually come back and booked their site."
UPDATE 2.13pm: EVANS Head Caravan Park is the last of the eight caravan parks in the Northern Rivers Cluster to receive the upgraded plan from the NSW Crown Holiday Park Trust (NSWCHPT).
NSWCHPT CEO Steve Edmonds said this model has already proved it's worth on the other seven sites as they have all seen increased visitation.
"The model is working and providing a positive impact for the local business community and local economy," Mr Edmonds said.
"For example for every $1.00 spent in the tourist park on accommodation another $1.38 is spent in the local economy."
"Urunga Holiday Park has experienced a significant increase and contributed to the prosperity and profitability of local business."
But the local economy isn't the only concern for the local community, as rumours surface saying that the park will be used to accommodate road crew for the new Ballina Woolgoolga Highway.
"We are unaware of any approach in this regard," Mr Edmonds said.
"It should be noted these parks are holiday parks and not temporary worker accommodation."
"The Trust's market focus is to encourage tourists to our parks."
"However, as like any other member of the public road crews or other staff would be welcome to book short-term temporary accommodation."
Mr Edmonds said the Trust understands that holiday van owners have an emotional and sentimental attachment to their vans and the holiday park, however the decision was made so they could open the park up for the broader public to enjoy.
"It is never easy delivering news to families that have an emotional attachment to the park however as mentioned previously those families will have an opportunity to rebook the sites as tourists."
UPDATE 10.45am: RADIO personality Neil Marks said he believes the NSW Crown Holiday Park Trust (NSWCHPT) have made a mistake when it comes to the eviction of Evans Head's Caravan Park tenants.
"I just think the North Coast Caravan Trust, really haven't listened to the people and I don't think they have done their research as far as the sort of people that are likely to be using Evans Head in the future, let alone the people who have been spending a lot of time there over many years."
Mr Marks and his family own a caravan in the holiday park and said they are devastated with the news.
"With school holidays just around the corner my wife and my young child were going down for a couple of weeks and now it is going to be tinged with sadness as opposed to the usual joy and happiness."
Mr Marks is among other caravan owners who have said the letter they received from the NSWCHPT was too informal and felt it was insensitive to those patrons who love the park and have been visiting for many years.
"It is just a plain form letter which I would consider a bad form."
"We're talking about people who have quite considerable investments in these places down there and some have had a long emotional investment not just a financial investment."
"And just to get a few lines and a legal disclaimer on the bottom of a piece of paper, it depersonalised it a great deal."
Patrons of the park were all aware the transition into the new plan was evitable but were expecting more notice and communication.
"In previous letters we were told it would happen stage by stage and it looks like we are all getting cleared out in the one hit."
"When they start we will know it's coming and eventually we will have a period of time to do it but It's just come as a big hit and quite an emotional shock for a lot of people."
Mr Marks said that his family will be looking for a short term resolution for them to continue to visit Evans Head however they are not sure what their plans are for their future at the Holiday Park.
"To go back, it means you have the have a caravan, the caravan we've got is very old the hard annex that goes with it will have to be dismantled and taken off, it won't be able to be registered again so we don't have a caravan to go back with."
TUESDAY 5.30am: VAN owners at the Evans Head Caravan Park are devastated after receiving a Notice of Termination last Friday, June 23, giving them 90 days to vacate.
The letter came from Jennifer Scott the Regional Manager of NSW Crown Holiday Park Trust (NSWCHPT) and stated that all vans are required to be off site by September 28, 2017.
One tenant of the holiday park, Jane Baker, took to Facebook yesterday and since has received an overwhelming response of support and heart break for their treasured caravan park.
"Silver Sands Caravan Park has been a holiday destination for local families for over 100 years," Mrs Baker said.
"This is a big loss for Evans Head, shame on you, to those responsible."
Patrons of the park were disgruntled by the nature of the eviction notice and said they felt the NSWCHPT didn't consult and communicate with them enough.
"Why are we abruptly being terminated when stage 1 and 2 of Plan of Management for Silver Sands Holiday Park have not even commenced?" Mrs Baker said.
"We are asking for more time and notice, especially since a lot of the owners and families have planned their annual leave to visit the park in the Christmas holidays."
In a statement, NSWCHPT CEO Steve Edmonds said the holiday vans at North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP) Evans Head are being reduced to cater for the larger vans and RVs that need to be accommodated for and to create a space for short-term tourist sites and group bookings.
"The Trust has an ongoing investment program for the holiday parks under its control to ensure they remain sustainable, continue to meet the expectations of visitors and make a contribution to local economies," Mr Edmonds said.
"Holiday van owners that are required to remove their vans from the park will have the same opportunity to book a site that other visitors have."
Mrs Baker said she has spoken to managers at the NSWCHPT in attempt to get some more answers.
"If this is the final crunch and we have to move our vans, we will never go back to that caravan park."