Mayor predicts strong growth
TOWNSVILLE Mayor Tony Mooney has forecast 2007 to kickstart a ‘golden era’ of development in the city.
‘‘It is going to be an excitingyear,’’ he said.
The $23 million upg r a d e o f Mur r a y Sports Stadium, the $8m CBD arts hub, and the Solar Cities program will be highlights, according to the mayor.
But he said balancingdevelopment with Townsville’s lifestyle was a priority.
Greeningprog rams and improvingthe city image were about enhancingthe local lifestyle, and Cr Mooney said these programs would continue to be a priority.
‘There’s a bigpressure on the council to look at how we balance all the pressure for development against community lifestyle and I’ll be doingmore work on that with the local community during the year,’’ he said.
‘‘(Townsville people) love the lifestyle and the laid-back way of life and we’ve got to be careful, we’ve got to balance all this dynamic development.
‘‘There is going to be more de- velopment. I just urge the community to be patient, as we are going on a major journey of transformingTownsville,.’’
Vital infrastructure that would seal the city’s future still needed to be secured, the Mayor said.
‘‘One of them is the port access road, and the other one is a base load power station for Townsville and I see those issues as very important to finalise and get implemented in the next three to five years,’’ Cr Mooney said.
‘‘They’re like the buildingblocks of our economy — without those we can’t achieve that new golden era . . . without those we are still going to do well, but we are not going to do as well, as what we should do.’’
Cr Mooney confirmed the council was lookingdown the barrel of cost blowouts. ‘‘There are some delays and cost blowouts that we are now startingto have to confront,’’ he said.
Councils and the public sector were facinga construction price increase index of about 1.8 per cent every month.
‘‘That’s more than 15 to 20 per cent a year and that’s a bigincrease,’’ Cr Mooney said.
‘‘We’ve seen it on things like the Ross Dam construction and our waste water upgrade.’’
But Cr Mooney said there was no talk of a rate rise yet.
‘‘We’re tryingto keep a very tight rein on rates but it means some projects that we otherwise would do may have to be deferred.
‘‘We’re currently havingto look at what projects we are going to get completed this year that we’ve already approved in our budget.
‘‘We’re on track to do well but we’re under pressure, there’s no doubt about that.’’
A major arts and cultural festival would make an inaugural appearance in the 2007 winter social line-up, a c c o r d i n g t o C r Mooney.
He said the council would also work hard t o g e t t h e Ro c k y Springs development — which can house up to 50,000 people — off the ground in 2007.
‘‘It gives people greater choice,’’ Cr Mooney said.
‘‘The sale of land becomes more competitive, which will make it more affordable.’’
‘‘Rocky Springs is our future and we are pushingfull steam ahead to get that online.’’
He said the council would forge forward with strategic water infrastructure.
‘‘We’ve just started construction in a major expansion of the Cleveland Bay wastewater plant — that’s a $100m project.
But Cr Mooney maintained Townsville was not a boom town.
‘‘Let’s get rid of the boom town tag— I don’t like it,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t think it’s what Townsville is all about. We don’t want (Gold Coast style development).’’
PROUD . . . Mayor Tony Mooney says despite the city’s many big projects, balance between development and lifestyle is key