Thursday 26 June 2008

Get rid of City Place

Newly elected Division 3 Councillor, Robert Pyne, is declaring war on City Place.
He believes that the whole concept should be questioned and thrown out.
Pyne has suggested we not only resist any plans to redevelop the City Place, but to abandon the concept of a City Place altogether.
"There have been calls by some in government for more attention to be given to the City Place," he says.
The whole expenditure of the previous Council on the City Place redevelopment probably hit the million dollar mark. They have had a number of attempts to get it right, and on every occasion, they failed to engage the public, and we ended up with an expensive eyesore.
There's nowhere to sit in the shade. Council ripped out three large fig trees that were a feature of the old grass-laden town centre. It was a relaxing and inviting place to rest and take in the city. Not anymore though.
I've blogged many times about the ongoing re-development of City Place, so would agree with Robert on this one.
“Those who have been around long enough will remember Cairns prior to construction of a city place. Back then we did not have the Esplanade with heaps of rooms for public gatherings, markets and entertainment,” Pyne says.
He says with the Esplanade facilities, we don't need a City Place.
"Most locals I talk to would rather see the area returned to traffic, with Lake Street and Shields Streets reconnected."
He says that median strips and landscaped footpaths would look better than what we have now.
"The issue should be open for public consultation. We had great public consultation on the Esplanade redevelopment, and we had a great outcome," he says.
Pyne wants the issue to be taken away from politicians and lobby groups, so the people can decide on the best outcome for this crucial part of the CBD.

The last two months have seen a focus on the Council budget with the prospect of a 10% rate rise. Pyne says that ratepayers are eventually called upon to meet the costs of major projects embarked upon by Council.

"Council could also consult on a use for the ‘mushroom’ [sound stage] in Lake Street," he said. "Perhaps it could be used to provide shade in a suburban play-ground or moved to the esplanade for local artists to ‘reinvent’ as a talking point.

"Maybe it will be a public reminder not to waste rate-payers money," Robert Pyne says.


Anonymous said...

Note: This letter was originally drafted in August 2006 as a letter to the editor, but unfortunately it was not sent then. The sentiment is still appropriate, and I feel Robert and Mike are on the mark.

“This week I received my increased rate notice.(Some things never change) This week the Mayor, Kevin Byrne, announces a re-design(again) of the City Mall possibly costing around $1,500,000 plus the inevitable blow-out.

The current hot and barren space was created only a few years ago at ratepayers expense. The incompetence in the design then was almost beyond belief. With appalling porcelain sculptures which cost a fortune (and became urinals for the itinerants and drunks), metal seating in the full glare of a tropical sun, silly little trees which would take another 20 years to claw their way to sustainability to provide shade, no cover from the elements, and a Sound Stage which doesn’t really know what it is catering for. Now, we are told, that this anachronism from the 70’s and 80’s is going to have more money (our money) put into it. It is time for this to stop.

The Sound Shell is now on the Esplanade. Make this an “all-weather” amphitheatre-style covered venue. Build up the grassy mounds (put seating there and cover it) allowing the audience to see the stage from all angles. It is a blank canvas at the moment and is ideal for this. This is where the money must be spent rather than trying to re-invent a useless venue such as the City Mall.

When the original Cairns Mall was created (with a lot of opposition from the City traders in Lake Street and surrounds) there were not the facilities which are now provided on the Esplanade. Spend the money there rather than having an indistinct music venue in the city centre which will never be well patronised or used appropriately or adequately.

The Cairns Mall was ill-conceived from the very beginning. I was living in Cairns at the time and the Lake Street-Shields Street intersection was the busiest and the lifeblood of Cairns. It screams to be allowed to be this again. The Mall doesn’t work and never has. Since the original construction until now, I believe the Mall has choked the City Heart, and various uses have recently been invented such as a Bus Terminal and Taxi Rank on opposite ends of the Mall, to justify its existence.

The Cairns Esplanade has had many millions spent on it, and is an outstanding feature which is recognised as one of the best in the world. Venues exist now on the Esplanade, which were not even a dream when the Cairns Mall was first built.

Now is the time to bulldoze this failed judgement from past Cairns City Councils, and move forward with better vision. Opening this intersection will be providing a breath of fresh air to the city traders near it. Motorists, who currently spend their time trying to find their way around this bottleneck will find that the city traffic has more flow and will see the proper utilisation of the CBD particularly in the areas surrounding Lake Street to the north, which to this point in time, has been sadly lacking. It will benefit the traders, the tourists, the locals, and from that – Cairns.”

Anonymous said...

As Betty Samis used to sing on the ad...
Its City Place, City Place,
Never find a better place
See you downtown at City Place.

What's this 'Cairns Mall' you speak of? No local I know has ever referred to it as a 'mall'. To true locals it is the 'City Place', always has been.

Tony Hillier said...

The City Place needs to become the hub of the CBD, just as piazzas are in Europe and zocalos are in Latin America. Then people would gravitate towards it, rather than scurrying hastily through it or around it, as though it were landmined or contained cowpats.

For starters, it needs a central water feature — and we're not talking about another "Caroma Cascades"! Some kind of substantial modern fountain is needed, not another laughing stock hidden behind bushes. If memory serves me right, there was just such a feature there when the City Place was installed in the early '80s — not the Fontana di Trevi, admittedly, but a perfectly acceptable feature. OK you might get the odd drunken backpacker taking a moonlight dip, but soooo what?

We also need to get rid of the psychedelic mushroom — sorry Mark B — or at least make it blend in a little better, and plant some appropriate trees that afford shade (not those silly shrubbery things) and put some kind of coating on the metal seats to stop bums from being burnt.

How about some kind of electronic display unit to let residents and visitors know what's happening in town that night? That would be an attraction in itself. At the moment, tourists wander around aimlessly like herds of wildebeest trying to find meaningful signs of life (apart from cheap drinks and wet T-shirt comps).

Cairns badly needs to raise the bar. Fixing the City Place would assuredly be a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is correct and Hillier and that dead dingo are dangerously wrong.

The closure of Lake St has been a debacle for the city, has promoted crime environments, and hinderance to any kind of efficient transport systems. I tend to agree with anonymous, and although I have recently become familiar with with some of Europes finest piazzas, City Place is unlikely to become anything similar, and the grand piazzas are generally to be avoided for the more intimate public spaces with character.

Let the city flow. A D9 bulldozer (or anything bigger will suffice)down Lake St. Look at how to create public spaces throughout the city. Perhaps create public space down the Shields St restuarant strip which, after all, is not a through street in the manner of Lake as it runs from a dead end to a dead end?

Diverse entertainment rather than what has become the boring asinine offering now in central bureaucrat controlled and promoted locations.

Anonymous said...

Dead Dingo's Donga, call it what you like, it started out as the Cairns Mall and was gradually referred to as City Place to try to give it some class. Didn't work!
There are currently ample references to it as either - but a mistake by any other name is still a mistake.
Thersites suggestion utilising Shields St (if one must have a "City Place") makes more sense.
This local calls it both, Cairns Mall or City Place, that is not the issue.

Anonymous said...

Yes anonymous, I know, and I agree. I just thought I'd remind people of that great ditty. Mall or City Place is not the issue, the fact something needs do be done about it is. I actually am in favour of creating a 'mall'. Whether it be Shields St, or as some have suggested, closing off more of Lake St from Shields through to Spence.

Lets face it, tourists come here for the reef and rainforest, and only wander the streets of the city centre as time off from tours, or simply, because its there. I worked in tourism in the city for 12 years and there is little attraction there for tourists. A city square/mall is a great idea for a town like Cairns.

I also believe that creating a larger, pedestrian mall-type area will bring boutique shops back to the city centre, which will in turn bring back locals, who fled the city centre in droves when Cairns Central opened and took all the shops.

As thersites says, closing part of Shields St is a good suggestion, as it would be a continuation from Cairns Central to the esplanade, encouraging shops and eateries to pop up right from McLeoad St, through to, say Lake St.

Anyway, just a suggestion, but something certainly needs doing.

Anonymous said...

As a long term local (18 years) and a city worker, I remember not so long ago, when even with the roads closed, City Place hummed. I used to look forward to my lunch hours to do shopping which I did quickly so that I would have half an hour or so to go and sit and listen to music at the sound shell. As there was benched seating undercover,you could sit and listen in all weathers, what the musicians of the day had to offer. Sometimes, it was standing room only for tourists and locals alike. Everyone enjoyed that 2 hr snapshot of music in the middle of the day and it brought life to the city.

For me, that era seems to have dissipated with the changes made so far. Opening it back up to traffic does not make much sense. Pedestrians having to negotiate traffic in that small area again would be bedlam!

KitchenSlut said...

Interesting to see Greg Punshon plagiarising themes from here at Cairnsblog in his weekend Post column.

The Shields St approach is obvious. The pedestriian traffic flow between Central and The Esplanade with associated street life feeding off it is easily imaginable.

Those Piaza's Tony Hillier loves in Europe seem to feature an array of interesting and talented buskers without the need to employ some boffin down at council to schedule performances under an ugly mushroom.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm a friend of Betty Samis'. How amazing is it that dead dingo's donga remembers her singing the ad! I will let her know. She would not be happy with what's going on either! Cheers!