Warner trees spared the axe

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Mark Mur­ray

PLANS to re­move trees on Warner St have been put on ice.

A pub­lic back­lash to the re­moval of the rose­woods along the Port Dou­glas street has had an af­fect with Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil con­firm­ing they would adopt a ‘gen­tler ap­proach’ to the up­grade.

A change.org pe­ti­tion to save the av­enue of 66 trees has been signed by more than 1940 peo­ple since plans to re­move them sur­faced in Septem­ber.

De­spite the re­think, Mayor Ju­lia Leu vowed to fix the drainage and other key is­sues plagu­ing the ‘liveli­hood’ of those on the street.

“Coun­cil believes we can reach a more bal­anced so­lu­tion,” she said.

“We said from the start this would be a com­plex ex­er­cise and it is a credit to con­struc­tive com­mu­nity en­gage­ment that we are able re­turn to the draw­ing board with a clearer di­rec­tion.”

It comes as con­trac­tors spent hours clean­ing up dam­aged and flood af­fected ar­eas of the street on Mon­day fol­low­ing wild winds and heavy rain ear­lier that morn­ing.

New light­ing, ex­tra park­ing spa­ces, pedes­trian walk­ways and im­proved drainage sys­tems all re­main on the table for the up­grade.

“We will find a gen­tle so­lu­tion that re­flects the de­sires of ev­ery­one in the com­mu­nity,” Cr Leu said.

Coun­cil re­ceived 50 de­tailed sub­mis­sions about the three up­grade op­tions re­leased dur­ing the two-month com­mu­nity en­gage­ment pe­riod.

Cr Leu said the pic­turesque street was a vi­tal as­set to Port Dou­glas and plans were still un­der­way to im­prove con­di­tions for those on the street ‘by fix­ing the prob­lems and im­prov­ing our level of ser­vice to them, but also en­sur­ing the pop­u­lar av­enue of rose­wood trees is pro­tected’.

She said the Warner St up­grade team will look at com­plet­ing tar­geted op­er­a­tional works, rather than a largescale up­grade.

More than half of the re­spon­dents did not support any of the op­tions pre­sented and would pre­fer a so­lu­tion which retains all rose­wood trees, or at least 50 per cent. Of the re­main­ing 22 sub­mis­sions, pref­er­ences were spread across the three op­tions pre­sented but ‘no clear favourite emerged’.

Ex­pert ar­borist ad­vice sug­gests a small num­ber of rose­wood trees may need to be re­moved in fu­ture years to pro­tect the larger ma­jor­ity of trees, due to over­crowd­ing and in­ter­fer­ence with es­sen­tial in­fra­struc­ture.

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