LET US REMAIN
Market holders unhappy
THE voices of Airlie Beach market stall holders rose in unison to the tune of American folk song We Shall Not Be Moved at the weekend.
Coming together to discuss their opposition to a shift away from the beach front, the newly formed Please Don’t Move The Mar- kets committee has been asked to submit an alternate design to the Whitsunday Regional Council.
By Rory Sheavils STALL holders at the Lions Airlie Beach Markets aren’t impressed with the proposed loss of their beachfront location, banding together to fight back.
Formed in response to the foreshore revitilisation proposal, the Please Don’t Move The Markets Committee met at the weekend to discuss its options.
Stall holder and committee member Kristel Taylor told the group they had met with Mayor Andrew Willcox and chief financial officer Matthew McGoldrick, submitting an impact statement signed by 118 stall holders.
The group was then asked to submit an alternate plan.
“We’re going to put in, as best we can, a drawing of all the stalls. We’re going to hold our position on the beach, we’re going to draw what we believe is a win-win solution,” Ms Taylor said.
She said this included a number of aspects of the original plan, such as wider paths and bus stops.
Ms Taylor said the alternate plan would see some de- finite changes however.
“We don’t mind the park being improved but we’re not happy about losing the car parking and we’re not happy about being taken off the beach,” she said.
“We basically proposed that, if you draw a line from the back gate (of the market area) pretty much straight across to the old bus shelter, everything (to the sailing club side) would remain car parking.
“Everything (to the market side) would be grass and therefore that would be the winwin.”
Ms Taylor said some car parking would still be lost under the alternate plan.
“But, because there wouldn’t be that turnaround (area), you would gain some extra spaces in a better designed car park,” she said.
Whitsunday Lions Club member Allan Gravelle, who sits on the project steering committee, said he had spoken with town planners from RPS, who reported around half of respondents to their community consultation were against moving the markets.
The Lions are conducting their own consultation questionnaire however, reporting a vastly different result.
“And it’s not even close: It’s not 50-50, it’s horrendously against moving the markets,” he said.
“You would be lucky to see 1% of respondents ask for the markets to be moved.”
Mr Gravelle said “maybe 20–30%” of people thought parking was adequate “but that is the parking we have
now being adequate, not what they’re proposing”.
With the markets bringing in around “50,000 people a year”, Mr Gravelle said it was madness to move them.
“You can put together every other event in Airlie Beach and it doesn’t even get to a fraction of that,” he said.
The steering committee will meet again on July 4 to discuss the results of the consultation process, which is due to end tomorrow.
Save Our Foreshore has thrown its support behind the stall holders, with president Suzette Pelt attending the weekend meeting.
“Our interest is public land,” she told those assembled.
“We will back what the markets want, what the stall holders want.”
Ms Pelt suggested the gravel area, currently zoned as green space, could be used as event and overflow parking in the event it was to become park land.
No matter what happens, the markets will move temporarily to make way for development works.
Ms Taylor said they were not prepared to move further away from town, giving the example of the Whitsunday PCYC car park.
Instead, the group has suggested moving back to Fairy Tree Park, its original position, or closing the Esplanade between the roundabouts on Saturday mornings to host a street market.
This morning the stall holders will present a petition against the move to Deputy Mayor John Collins, with almost 1000 signatures.
“We’re going to put in as best we can a drawing of all the stalls, we’re going to hold our position on the beach, we’re going to draw what we believe is a winwin solution.”
LET US STAY: Lions Airlie Beach Markets stall holders, residents and community groups are petitioning council to let them stay on the beach front. Photo: Rory Sheavils
TALKS: The Airlie Beach markets are considered iconic and stall
holders are fighting to maintain their beachfront location. Photo: contributed.