Gateway still on track for 2011 opening
FIRST the good news - the $17 million Mossman Gorge Gateway precinct will probably still open next year.
Now the bad news - the precinct is unlikely open at the beginning of the tourist season, as originally planned.
The entire project hit a snag a few months ago when the federal Department of the Environment asked for a study to determine whether the Gateway would pose a risk to cassowaries or to the common mist frog, both of which are endangered.
The current federal election has thrown another spanner in the works.
The Indigenous Land Corporation, the federal agency responsible for building the precinct, said it is unable to provide any information during an election campaign.
It is understood that the ILC has until Friday to accept conditions to protect the cassowary and mist frog, such as additional fencing, and will begin calling for tenders shortly. Construction of the precinct is likely to begin in late October.
Local business leaders, however, say they are happy to wait if it means making sure the precinct is an A-grade product.
“I’ve got patience,” Mossman Chamber of Commerce president Kraig Byrne said. “It’s taken so long to get to this point, another couple of months won’t make a huge difference.
“The ILC is making sure every box is ticked and everything is perfect. The delay might even be good because it gives the trainees and contractors time to get up to speed.
“Like any business, you want your product to be A1 from the get-go.”
Mr Byrne said he thought the Gateway would be a huge feather in the cap of Mossman. “It’s going to be brilliant,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise a few people, just how good it is. It’s a real credit to Damien (Britnell) and Roy (Gibson).
“It’s been their dream for a long time. I’m sure it will be worth the wait.”
While local builders are unlikely to win the tender to manage the overall project, the ILC has placed an indigenous employment covenant on the project, requiring the successful builder employ 20 per cent indigenous labour.