La­goon wake-up call

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Char­lie McKil­lop

A GROUP of pri­vate busi­ness own­ers and lead­ers frus­trated at the lengthy plan­ning and con­sul­ta­tion process has taken mat­ters into their own hands to get a la­goon built on the water­front of Port Dou­glas.

Yes­ter­day, a lo­cal “con­sor­tium” of concerned busi­ness and in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives met be­hind closed doors at Bistro 3 to un­veil a fully costed, “shovel ready” $15 mil­lion pro­posal.

Com­piled by Prime Con­struc­tions di­rec­tor Andy Tay­lor, the dossier was de­signed to pro­vide a light­ning rod to jolt the water­front master­plan process into ac­tion ahead of the March 2011 com­ple­tion date.

“This is not a fait ac­com­pli by any means but given the mas­sive wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise that ex­ists lo­cally, we know we can do it and do it well,” Mr Tay­lor said.

“We didn’t by­pass or set out to of­fend any­one.

“In fair­ness the coun­cil is con­strained to some ex­tent by all the other stake­hold­ers that need to be ac­com­mo­dated in the process.

“We just very qui­etly set about pulling to­gether all the ex­ist­ing in­for­ma­tion from coun­cil, the Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee, lo­cal gov­ern­ments and other doc­u­ments to give our com­mu­nity lead­ers the am­mu­ni­tion they need to start mov­ing and get it hap­pen­ing,” Mr Tay­lor said.

Al­ready, Fed­eral Mem­ber for Le­ich­hardt War­ren Entsch and Di­vi­sion 10 councillor Ju­lia Leu have thrown their sup­port be­hind it but State Mem­ber for Cook Ja­son O’Brien is fum­ing the meet­ing went ahead with­out his knowl­edge.

“I’m very dis­ap­pointed not to have had the op­por­tu­nity to be there. Since I haven’t seen the pro­posal or been in­vited to the meet­ing, I’m hardly in a po­si­tion to com­ment,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr Entsch said it would be a case of “let’s start dig­ging” as soon as the fi­nal con­fig­u­ra­tion and tech­ni­cal de­tails were fi­nalised by the coun­cil and its ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee.

“Why waste time?” Mr Entsch said. “We have a con­cept, site and price which will be a de­posit on the much larger com­mit­ment that will be re­quired to de­velop the whole of the water­front pro­posal.”

While ad­mit­ting fund­ing com­mit­ments still needed to be se­cured, Mr Entsch said he was pre­pared to start talk­ing to Fed­eral Re­gional Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Simon Crean “next week” now a firm pro­posal was in his hands.

“This is the first time in all the years I’ve been the lo­cal mem­ber when the com­mu­nity has come to govern­ment with a plan for ma­jor cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture,” he said.

Cr Leu said the coun­cil had not been re­buffed by the com­mu­nity’s plan as it was pretty close to the op­tions al­ready be­ing as­sessed.

“The tim­ing is very good as it will be in­cor­po­rated in the fea­si­bil­ity study to en­sure there’s a full tech­ni­cal, hy­dro­log­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment of the pro­posal,” she said.

“We just need to get on with it. As soon as it starts, it will bring peo­ple in the com­mu­nity to­gether as they get a sense some­thing is hap­pen­ing.”

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