Beach ac­cess ‘de­nied’

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

RES­I­DENTS of Sor­rento Cres­cent are up in arms over Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to close a beach ac­cess path­way south of the Sher­a­ton Mi­rage.

The ac­cess path­way is main­tained by the Sher­a­ton Mi­rage, which yes­ter­day said coun­cil had not in­formed man­age­ment of the clo­sure.

Coun­cil said the clo­sure is due to safety con­cerns, pri­mar­ily due to tree roots caus­ing dam­age to the con­crete path, and plans to de­tour pedes­tri­ans in­stead to a path­way down Sor­rento Cr.

The path stops on Solan­der Boule­vard and pedes­tri­ans then have to ac­cess the end of the south­ern Sher­a­ton ac­cess path to get to the beach.

Sor­rento Cr res­i­dent Tina Gonsalves said they are con­cerned tourists will get lost on the new route and is wor­ried about the safety of beach­go­ers and res­i­dents.

‘‘I can’t un­der­stand why the coun­cil would want to close an ex­ist­ing di­rect ac­cess path that the tourists can never get lost on which also has park­ing,’’ she said.

‘‘A big con­cern about ac­cess­ing the al­ter­na­tive path is safety is­sues as the road is not wide enough for cars and pedes­tri­ans.

‘‘Two cars in op­po­site di­rec­tions can­not pass each other and there is no foot­path so pedes­tri­ans need to walk on the road.

‘‘It will bring a lot more noise to the area from the hun­dreds of peo­ple pass­ing through, from the walk­ers and cy­clists be­fore sun­rise to the drunk peo­ple af­ter dark.

‘‘We want tourists to have a good ex­pe­ri­ence but we are also pro­tec­tive of our pri­vacy.’’

Res­i­dent Michael Gabour ques­tioned the cost of fix­ing the di­rect beach ac­cess ver­sus im­prove­ment to the al­ter­nate path and mak­ing Sor­rento Cr more pedes­trian-friendly.

‘‘The new coun­cil will be forced to put a path down on the street which costs just as much as main­tain­ing that path­way,’’ he said.

Robyn Smith of Sor­rento said she could not un­der­stand why they would take away a path­way that is ‘‘per­fectly good, just in need of some re­pairs’’, while neigh­bour An­nie Stievano said this shock an­nounce­ment is sim­i­lar to when coun­cil chopped down the co­conuts last year.

‘‘We are hor­ri­fied that once again there has been no con­sul­ta­tion,’’ An­nie Stievano said.

The lack of con­sul­ta­tion also ex­tends to Di­vi­sion 10 Ju­lia Leu, who said while she agrees there are some safety and main­te­nance is­sues with the cur­rent path­way, it can be eas­ily rec­ti­fied.

‘‘I was par­tic­u­larly unim­pressed as I knew noth­ing about the pro­posed clo­sure un­til res­i­dents start­ing con­tact­ing me af­ter re­ceiv­ing a flyer last Fri­day, no­ti­fy­ing them that the path­way ‘will be closed’ due to safety con­cerns,’’ she said.

‘‘The path­way was built when the Sher­a­ton Re­sort was es­tab­lished to en­sure lo­cals and tourists had ac­cess to the beach and is sub­ject to a 1988 agree­ment be­tween the Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil and the Sher­a­ton Re­sort whereby the owner of the re­sort prop­erty is fully re­spon­si­ble for the main­te­nance and up­keep of the path­way to the sat­is­fac­tion of coun­cil.’’

Sher­a­ton Mi­rage gen­eral man­ager Lach­lan Walker said they had no knowl­edge of the clo­sure and have in­formed their en­gi­neer to get in con­tact with coun­cil to re­solve the is­sue.

‘‘It is a com­plete sur­prise to us - we ac­tu­ally did some work on it sev­eral months ago,’’ he said.

Coun­cil said it would look into whether any im­prove­ments are re­quired for the al­ter­nate path­way and will leave the south­ern Sher­a­ton beach ac­cess path­way to nat­u­rally re­gen­er­ate.

Any­one with con­cerns should con­tact Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil by May 31 on 4044 3303 or feed­back@cairns.qld.gov.au

Pic­ture: ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

THE ’UN­SAFE PATH’:

an­gered res­i­dents Robyn Smith, An­nie Stievano, Rod Sher­lock and An­der Stievano

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