Douglas development: Community in the dark

Thursday December 12th 2013

Douglas development: Community in the dark

Two local construction projects - the new Port Douglas roundabout and the installation of traffic lights near the new Mossman Woolworths - have sparked a heated community debate, with numerous residents criticising a lack of public consultation and lacklustre government action.

Peter Wood, a Tourism Researcher at James Cook University in Cairns, initially voiced his concerns over the traffic lights proposal on The Newsport’s December 11 article.

“I am calling on the public to be outraged. I am calling on David Kempton to act,” he said.

“It is the right thing to do that the Department of Main Roads includes reasonable community views in this before they do anything.”

Mr Wood, a long-time Mossman resident, listed a number of reasons why he believes a means to ease traffic congestion at the site, like traffic lights or a roundabout, is unnecessary. Among them, the preservation of Mossman’s “pioneer, outback character”, free from urban development.

"Mossman is really the end of the built up urban area in Coastal North Queensland,” he said.

“North Queensland does have a traditional pioneer, outback character, which is slowly being nibbled away by planners and urban developers.”

“Like Bruce Trudeau, Professor of Tourism at James Cook University told me the other day, [Mossman's character] would be an outstanding tourism attraction and marketing asset for the region. He was quite startled that lights were being installed.”

“I think that our tourism bodies should be aware that [Mossman's] absence of [traffic] lights and urban sprawl sights and sounds are what travellers are after; that's a really good reason to consider reviewing the lights going in, because once they're installed, you lose that tourism and marketing advantage.

“That's another reason why people visit and live in the Douglas Shire region - they don't seek that urban development. So installing traffic lights is really in the face of all those people, including Mossman residents, who seek to do something different with North Queensland living. That should at least be considered by TMR, [developer] Town and Country Ltd, and Member for Cook, David Kempton.

“It seems to me that those involved are sending the wrong message to the community.”

Similarly, Mossman Botanic Gardens group Vice President Frank Frikker described "huge disappointment among members of the Douglas community and the MBG team” concerning the Port Douglas roundabout.

Read related article.

“After committed residents have shown great enthusiam and creativity during a public meeting on November 25 at the Clink Theatre,folks are left with frustration following the latest development.

“The MBG team has been contacted by angry residents wondering why the median strips have been filled with concrete, despite RoadTek promising MP David Kempton they would not do so.

“The latter forwarded the public's request to keep the strips concrete-free to the Department of Main Roads.

“Neither Cairns Regional Council nor the Department of Main Roads seem to care what people for which the roundabout is built really want.

“MBG and [Hortulus landscaper] John Sullivan are determined, however, to make the best out of this by continuing to find the best possible design for the entire area and then push MP David Kempton and the new council to find the funds to create a landmark visitors will remember and locals will be proud of.”

However, some residents support either one or both projects.

Daintree resident Deborah Favier said of the traffic lights, "Great idea! Shoppers often get stuck for ages here in the peak tourist season, so looking forward to it."

"It's about time that we moved into the 21st century. This will also help the traffic congestion at Johnson Rd."

"Traffic lights? Roundabouts? New service station...? Wow, next thing you know they will be fixing up potholes, poor lighting, footpaths and heaven knows what next..." commented Richard Hopper. 

More than 100 Newsport readers voted in a poll concerning the traffic lights, run on December 11 and 12. Over half (60) of the 107 respondents did not support the installation, with just over a third (36.4 per cent) supporting the plan.