STOP! Look closer urges locals

Monday 9 January 2012

STOP! Look closer urges locals

An alternative site for the Port Douglas cyclone shelter has been raised by two local campaigners who believe the community is being short changed by the current location and design.

Russell Jean and Steve Hull have continued to put pressure on elected representatives to ensure that the $6 million in secured funding for the shelter is used to build a facility large enough to protect more members of the community, and which could become a hub for future local infrastructure development.

The current shelter design can hold up to 720 people and will be located at the Port Douglas State School with construction expected to commence soon.

But Messrs Jean and Hull have called on the Douglas community to take a closer look at the issue, citing some major inadequacies in the plan including:

  • insufficient space in the shelter considering the population it will service
  • costly road access construction
  • management of public access to school grounds to ensure student safety
  • school site would not allow for future expansion of facilities  

According to the pair, local architect Gary Hunt has reviewed the cyclone shelter design and estimated its cost at almost half of the $6 million budgeted.

"We went to Gary Hunt...he gave us a report on the proposed building and he basically said based on the figures the building should cost about $3 - $3.5 million.

"Based on those figures for $6 million we could get the Cooktown model (a much larger shelter) built."

They have also identified a 12,000sqm block of Council owned land on Old Port Road (approximately 200m from the Captain Cook Hwy) which they believe would be an ideal location, not only for the shelter, but for additional infrastructure such as a public swimming pool. 

"That was Douglas Shire land. We're saying give it back to Douglas for this purpose, put the centre on there. It's not in a storm surge area, it's in the white zone right near the highway.

"It would have helicopter access, bus access, whatever you like. It's got that much space there."

He added that it would be a generous act of goodwill from the Council to the people of the Douglas region should the land be gifted for this purpose.

Mr Jean said that the $6 million could be spent using local designers and contractors who, being part of the community, would be prepared to help the funds stretch further to secure a bigger and better building.

"All of a sudden your $6 million goes a lot further than $3.5 million for the building and $2.5 million being swallowed by State Government offices - that's where the money is going," Mr Jean said.

"Emergency services can access that area so much easier (than the school)."

With elections expected in the next two months Mr Jean and Mr Hull are urging the community to contact political candidates from both sides before it's too late.

"We're saying stop. We're only at the stage at the moment of tenders so it hasn't cost (State Government) them a lot of money. Nothing has been dug, there are no pegs out so stop now, have another look, and say we can do more with this centre. Now is your chance."

State Member for Cook - Jason O'Brien
Ph: 07 4051 3849

Candidate for Cook - David Kempton
Ph: 0407 964 332

Minister for Government Services and Building Industry - Simon Finn
Ph: 07 3237 1832

Shadow Minister for Government Services and Building Industry - Ros Bates
Ph: 0402 348 406

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