Lagoon pool gets green light
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/
Big vision: an artist’s impression of what the lagoon pool would look like