Round and round-about gar­den

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Rod Kil­ner

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.’’

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