La­goon pool gets green light

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - RICHARD KOSER

FED­ERAL and state fund­ing will be es­sen­tial to build­ing the Port Dou­glas la­goon pool and “water­front park”.

An am­bi­tious de­sign pre­sented to the or­di­nary meet­ing of the Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil yes­ter­day out­lined a multi-year plan to com­pletely re­ju­ve­nate the north­ern flank of the tourist town, in­clud­ing a sig­na­ture 2000sq m la­goon pool be­tween the Tin Shed and the Sugar Wharf.

Coun­cil said it would be ask­ing state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments to con­trib­ute to the es­ti­mated $40 mil­lion cost of the plan.

The la­goon pool is es­ti­mated to cost $15-20 mil­lion at the site cho­sen, de­pend­ing on the fi­nal de­sign, with an an­nual op­er­at­ing bud­get of $1 mil­lion.

Cov­er­ing half an acre, the la­goon will have a “zero-depth” chil­dren’s play area with fountains, a beach en­try, a deep-wa­ter train­ing area for scuba-divers and an un­der­wa­ter “snorkel trail”. The rest of the water­front park, ex­tend­ing to Rex Smeal Park, will cost an es­ti­mated $20-25 mil­lion.

The tan­gle of pub­lic and pri­vate build­ings be­tween the Com­bined Club and the Sugar Wharf will be de­mol­ished to make way for a pub­lic board­walk, with walk­ing paths based on the old cane train lines lead­ing through the park. St Mary’s by the Sea will be­come a fo­cal point, with a sweep­ing en­trance and land­scap­ing to frame the church.

Coun­cil’s plans also en­vis­age build­ing a look­out and a per­for­mance space be­tween Rex Smeal and An­zac Parks, and a new “ad­ven­ture play­ground” for chil­dren.

The pub­lic boat ramp and most of the asso- ciated park­ing will be re­lo­cated, and mea­sures will also be taken to pro­tect the ma­ture trees in An­zac and Rex Smeal Parks.

This week’s coun­cil meet­ing stamped the progress re­port.

Coun­cil’s cur­rent time­line calls for both the la­goon and water­front park to be com­pleted in the “short-term”.

The ear­li­est that any works could be­gin on the la­goon pool is March 2012, when the leases on nearby build­ings ex­pire, but ne­go­ti­a­tions with stake­hold­ers and fi­nal­is­ing de­signs and ap­provals means a start­ing date is more likely in 2013.

Divi­sion 10 coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu said coun­cil needed to “ag­gres­sively pur­sue money from the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments”, par­tic­u­larly the Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Aus­tralia Fund.

“The pre­ferred site iden­ti­fied by coun­cil’s con­sul­tant has the ad­van­tage of be­ing the most re­al­is­tic, in terms of get­ting the nec­es­sary ap­provals and in terms of the es­ti­mated costs,” Cr Leu said. “This is our best shot at get­ting it hap­pen­ing now.

“I also think the pro­posed lo­ca­tion will cre­ate a fab­u­lous green space at the heart of our water­front. Our econ­omy des­per­ately needs a boost, and the RDA Fund has come along at just the right time for us.”

The fi­nal plans for the la­goon pool and water­front park will be avail­able for pub­lic com­ment from to­day un­til Thurs­day 21 April.

The process of gain­ing ap­proval from state gov­ern­ment agen­cies, prin­ci­pally DERM, is likely to take 12 months.

The Water­front and la­goon pool plans can be seen at www.cairns.qld.gov.au/

rub­ber-

Big vi­sion: an artist’s im­pres­sion of what the la­goon pool would look like

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