St Mary's By The Lagoon?

Thursday 31 March 2011

St Mary's By The Lagoon?


by Mat Churchill

The Port Douglas lagoon feasibility study consultants, Strategic Leisure Group, have recommended a preferred location for the project which carries the economic hopes of many in our seaside community.

The lagoon, which is estimated at costing between $15 - $20 million to construct, will include a 1370m2 pool, 420m2 children's play pool with fountains, a deep water snorkel trail, and youth space and deep pool.

However not everyone agrees with the recommended location which will be just metres from St. Mary's By The Sea, fearing that noise from the lagoon will disrupt wedding and funeral services.

"I hear there are couple of people who are very vocal against it, other people are saying I haven't thought about that, I'll look and see what the positives are," said Mayor Val Schier

"I think we need to have a look at what landscaping can do. If you have a mound there that has landscaping in a way that creates a buffer between St Mary's and the pool . . .it may not necessarily be an impact. It's all around design I think," she said.


In what may generate passionate discussion, the concept of moving St Mary's By The Sea to another location has been touted by people within the town. St Marys was moved to its current location on 11 November 1988 to save the iconic building from demolition.

It is an option not ruled out by Cr Shier.

"I guess anything is on the table. I don't want this to turn into such a big tussle that it slows the project down. I really want this next three or four weeks to be just full on, robust discussion about what the opportunities are.

"Suggestions like that (moving St Mary's) can be put on the table. Possibly there are increase costs involved in that, where would it move to and how are you going to landscape it to make it attractive. It certainly could be on the table," Cr Schier said.

Judi Piat sits on the Port Douglas Restoration Society and is co-owner of St Mary's By The Sea with Virginia Donovan after the Catholic Bishop of Cairns gave them the church in 1986 to use as a non-denominational place of worship, and to use for private functions such as weddings, christenings, and funeral services.

"We haven't been able to sleep ever since (hearing the recommendation). We're not happy at all," Ms Piat said. "We actually met on site last Friday with Gary Hunt (who sits on the waterfront committee) just to see exactly where it's proposed to go and it's going to impact on the church terrifically."

"We have a lot of funerals and weddings at the church and we feel the lagoon is going to be so close. It's going to be holiday makers and people sun bathing and music, plus all the toilets and facilities they need to have. It's going to really impact on the church."


"We're not against the lagoon but I don't think the site they're proposing is suitable. Can you imagine a hearse drawing up in front of a church and all the mourners coming out for a funeral?" she said.

"Someone even suggested to me that we move the church. I just don't think that's on. I don't think they can anyway because two of us actually own the church as it was given to us by the Catholics.," Ms Piat said.

"We just wonder who all these people are who voted for the present site they're proposing."

Gary Hunt could not be contacted for comment.

The Mayor denied the cost to reach this point in the project had topped $3 million.

"That's not accurate. When the amalgamation of Councils happened, the former Douglas Shire had allocated $900,000 for all of the consultation and the master planning. . .Cairns Regional Council kept that in the budget and that was allocated."

Residents and business owners can have their say on the proposal at a newly established office located in Macrossan Street.

The proposal is open for comment until 21 April