Designer finds flaws in proposal
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.