De­signer finds flaws in pro­posal

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FEEDBACK -

WHILE on the WaWater­front ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee I wrote a letter to all mem­bers of the com­mit­tee ex­press­ing my per­sonal opin­ion the coun­cil’s ad­vi­sors were flawed in their ra­tio­nale for lo­cat­ing the la­goon pool near St Mary’s Church and also noted my concern over the de­sign.

The CEO took “um­brage” at my re­port and other ad­vi­sors clearly took my com­ments as a per­sonal at­tack rather than of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive view for all mem­bers to con­sider when re­view­ing the con­sul­tant’s re­port and rec­om­men­da­tions of the lo­cal man­age­ment team.

So I re­signed as I did not wish to be party to a com­mit­tee that would not sup­port ro­bust de­bate and sim­ply wanted mem­bers to rub­ber stamp the views of the de­sign and man­age­ment team.

To my mind there are three core is­sues - the size, the lo­ca­tion and the de­sign.

The con­sul­tants based the size of the Port Dou­glas pool on a com­par­i­son with the Air­lie Beach pool and came up with a pool around one-third the size of the one in Air­lie, pro­vid­ing ref­er­ence sources for the pop­u­la­tion likely to use the pool for each lo­ca­tion. But in the case of Port Dou­glas they only con­sid­ered users from Port Dou­glas, Oak Beach, Cooya and Moss­man as likely users.

In the case of the Whit­sun­days their pop­u­la­tion count took in the whole amal­ga­mated Bowen and Whit­sun­day Shire. This in­cludes peo­ple driv­ing for 11/2 hours from Bowen - or catch­ing a ferry and bus from the Whit­sun­day Is­lands. Hardly ap­ples for ap­ples.

If you com­pare a sim­i­lar built-up area around Air­lie Beach to Port Dou­glas the pop­u­la­tion is less in Air­lie, so on their ra­tio­nale our pool should be big­ger.

For visi­tor num­bers the de­sign and man­age­ment team used the same flawed ra­tio­nale.

They com­pared the vis­i­tors staying in Port Dou­glas with those in the Whit­sun­days.

Only prob­lem is the num­bers they used for the Whit­sun­days in­cluded all the re­sorts and the is­lands - not just ac­com­mo­da­tion on the main­land. It’s hard to imag­ine some­one from Hay­man mak­ing a three-hour trip for a swim in Air­lie. Again if you use the real fig­ures for Air­lie Beach ver­sus Port Dou­glas, the op­po­site is true to what we are be­ing told by the con­sul­tants. There are con­sid­er­ably more beds and vis­i­tors in Port Dou­glas than Air­lie Beach.

The con­sul­tant’s own re­port ac­knowl­edges that in the peak time Air­lie can have up to 1400 bathers per day.

Their ex­trap­o­la­tion for Port Dou­glas is 257 per day. They note that they may be wrong by a fac­tor of 100 per cent, but even then that is only a bit over 500 for a whole day. Now for the lo­ca­tion. Nearly five years of con­sul­ta­tion with our com­mu­nity has been put to one side.

The St Mary’s site has only been on the lo­cal man­age­ment team’s radar since just be­fore Christ­mas.

The coun­cil hosted a work­shop for lo­cal de­sign pro­fes­sion­als, coun­cil staff and com­mit­tee mem­bers for two days in Oc­to­ber 2010.

In all the work we did for the land­scape de­sign guide there was never a men­tion of sit­ing the pool be­side St Mary’s.

The ir­rev­er­ence of ex­pect­ing a fu­neral to be in em­pa­thy with fun-lov­ing scant­ily clad bathers is breath­tak­ing in its au­dac­ity. How ut­terly in­sen­si­tive.

For­get about the time and cost to de­mol­ish all the build­ings and rip up the bi­tu­men, power, wa­ter and sewer ser­vices where the pool is go­ing.

Or all the ap­provals for a new trailer boat park as well as time and cost to move where they park now.

Don’t worry that the park­ing for the mar­kets is be­ing moved be­hind the Quick­sil­ver work­shop.

Ig­nore the fact there are only 10 car spaces planned for users of Rex Smeal Park. Scrap the idea of ex­pos­ing the orig­i­nal ac­cess to the Sugar Wharf as an his­toric el­e­ment adopted by the com­mu­nity in pre­vi­ous stud­ies.

Don’t worry about the sun­bathing area be­ing right be­side the new en­try road to the town cen­tre. For­get that the build­ing op­po­site the la­goon can be three sto­ries high. Now let’s look at the de­sign. We’ve got an un­der­size pool in a pre­dom­i­nantly ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment.

The de­sign­ers have cre­ated a se­ries of mounds about three me­tres high that block out views to the sea and the beau­ti­ful St Mary’s beach.

And un­der these mounds are toi­lets.

On one hand the ad­vi­sors tell us the pool should be four me­tres above high tide be­cause in a storm surge the wa­ter in the pool might get wet - but it is okay to put all the ex­pen­sive pool ma­chin­ery in a base­ment be­low sea level.

Look at the spi­der web of paths - the land­scape ar­chi­tects own de­sign guide says it should be nat­u­ral but we are look­ing at a net­work of harsh sur­faces with is­lands of grass and plant­ings.

Lastly, and crit­i­cally, there is the is­sue of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

The com­mu­nity should be given an op­por­tu­nity to con­sider the pros and cons of all four sites, par­tic­u­larly when two sites have only been on the draw­ing board since just be­fore Christ­mas.

In­stead we had a shop dis­play with about 14 large dis­play boards ex­tolling the virtues and de­sign for the con­sul­tant’s anointed site - and just one A3 page on a com­par­i­son with the four sites.

And even that com­par­i­son only high­lighted the pos­i­tives for the cho­sen site - no neg­a­tives.

For the other three sites only the neg­a­tive as­pects were high­lighted.

So we have an ex­traor­di­nar­ily bi­ased chunk of in­for­ma­tion upon which we are ex­pected to make a de­ci­sion. Clearly the lo­cal com­mu­nity’s views don’t mean much to the de­sign team - they know what is best for us.

Port Dou­glas de­serves a la­goon of the cor­rect size with a “wow fac­tor” that can be mar­keted here and over­seas.

The chair­man of Tourism Queens­land ad­vised the Premier and Trea­surer that this la­goon is the most im­por­tant tourism in­fra­struc­ture pro­ject in the state. So let’s not be put off by the scare-mon­ger­ing on gain­ing ap­provals and fund­ing.

If it is wor­thy and sup­ported by a siz­able chunk of the com­mu­nity on merit then fund­ing will fol­low.

Our com­mu­nity de­serves noth­ing less than an ex­em­plary la­goon typ­i­fy­ing the essence of the laid­back Port Dou­glas life­style and its nat­u­ral val­ues - not an un­der­size pool in an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment.

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