Round and round-about garden
MEMBER for Cook David Kempton has sought to re-assure concerned community groups that the promised consultation over landscaping of the new Port Douglas entrance roundabout will take place.
Mr Kempton said he had been delayed from initiating the discussion because of a heavy legislative workload in recent weeks. But he intends to come to the town soon and meet with groups that have expressed interest in participating in the design and/or implementation of the landscaping.
Mr Kempton had revealed a last-moment rethink of the former all-concrete design just as work was about to begin about a month ago. He says at this stage it is unclear how much money can be devoted to the landscape plan.
Mossman Botanic Gardens president Alan Carle said the group had been anxiously waiting for consultation.
Work on the long-awaited roundabout is well underway, and is expected to be finished in two more months – precious little time for any talks about landscaping.
‘‘We’re quite disturbed there is no consultation as yet,’’ Mr Carle said.
‘‘To arrive at an appropriate design is not something that can happen overnight, and we have to ensure that infrastructure is in place to sustain the plants.
‘‘A range of proposals will need to viewed to arrive at a design that will best suit what is effectively visitors’ first impression of the region.’’
David Kempton told the Gazette as construction on the roundabout was continuing, the amount of money left over to fund the design process was not yet known.
‘‘When we have all the financial details finalised, there will be full community consultation as previously promised,’’ Mr Kempton said.
‘‘This is a very busy parliamentary period and I have not had the time to get up there to continue talks, however there will be absolutely no action taken on the design process without consultation with the community.’’
Meantime, retailers at the shopping centre adjacent to the new roundabout are feeling the impact of the closure of Port Douglas Road.
Centre manager Andrew Holland, from Ray White Commercial Cairns, said the main concern was the lack of official notice about the start of works.
‘‘None of the businesses were given sufficient notification of the start of work and the closure of Port Douglas Road,’’ Mr Holland said.
‘‘Businesses needed time to prepare for the closure, and four days was nowhere near enough.’’
Supa IGA manager Denzil Bignoux said the short notice and the timing of closure could not have been worse.
‘‘It was only by chance that I found out late in the previous week that the road would be shut on the Monday,’’ Mr Bignoux said.
‘‘We had no time to prepare signs to direct people to the store, and with a significant percentage of our business coming from passing traffic we felt an immediate impact.
‘‘The closure also coincided with the start of the school holidays, historically our busiest two weeks of the year.’’
The store suffered a 13 to 14 per cent drop in turnover in the first week, 10 per cent in the second week, and is now averaging an 8 per cent reduction.
One of Port Douglas’ main tourist attractions, the Wildlife Habitat, was also affected.
Manager Darren Smith said while it was hard to quantify, the ancdotal evidence is that visitor numbers are significantly down.
‘‘We were receiving at least five or six phone calls a day from tourists who couldn’t find us and were in various places from Craiglie, to dow town or even at Mossman,’’ Mr Smith said.
‘‘While the construction crew has been outstanding in helping us out, the closure had an immediate negative impact on the business.
‘‘I only found out on the Thursday that the road would be shut on the following Monday, and like IGA we had no time to put up directional signs to minimise the confusion.’’
Wheelie Good Coffee’s Bruce Funch agreed business was down. ‘‘Our figures show that we’ve had a 30 per cent drop in trade,’’ Mr Funch said.
‘‘We had our mobile van on Old Port Road to try to recover some of our lost trade, but unfortunately council officers said we were operating on council land and moved us on.’’