Saturday 28 June 2008

Sno: Butt out of Palm Cove camping ground

The northern beach communities of Cairns have come under a lot of scrutiny recently. Almost every beach suburb is under the microscope from developers and commercial interests, greedy to do their worst without consulting local residents.

Clifton Beach has one of the most active community resident organisations that has been challenging and questioning what local developers are attempting to do in their back yard.

This tale comes from a northern beaches resident, who is closely involved on the battle to protect the golf course and wet tropics land that surround the Paradise Palms development.

Last Monday, a northern beaches resident nearly ran off the road whilst listening to the John McKenzie's radio talkback show. Who was on? You may well ask. What were they saying that nearly caused this accident?

Sno Bonneau, the former Divisional Councillor for this area, was on talk back about the Goldfinch Caravan Park, at Palm Cove.

This is the very much loved public camping and caravan park on Palm Cove's Esplanade.

Here is a bit of background.

This site has a long history and one, the Palm Cove-ites are proud of.

In the beginning, it was private land that was bequeathed to the State Government years ago by the owner for it to remain a public camping area. The Cairns Regional Council have management rights on behalf of the State Government.

In 2005, the then Council came up with a most ridiculous plan for re-development. Sno tried very hard to sell the concepts on offer but the locals would have none of it for very good reasons.

It took years for the Council to decide (in May 2007) to scrap their silly plans and just spend the money on upgrading the facilities, which is what the locals were screaming out for at the time.

So on Monday here is what Sno was saying in essence.

Cairns Council have run out of money and can’t afford to do the work, so are putting it out to private enterprise/developers to re-develop with of course, an opportunity to develop a commercial enterprise on the vacant land opposite the car park.

Sno emphasised that it was no longer his Division, but he had 13 years of work in that area.

It is Julia Leu’s division now but he had a very good working relationship with Julia Leu.

He implied that he gave her a lot of help and advice.
I wonder if this is Julia’s take on the situation? I rather think that the two views would be worlds apart.

Sno also said that he really missed working for Palm Cove and Clifton Beach. This is where the listener nearly ran off the road.

This councillor must be truly insane. He lives in a world of his own. It gets worse because people actually believe the crap that comes out of his mouth, particularly John McKenzie, it seems.

The residents of Clifton Beach northwards, are all enjoying a breath of fresh air in having Julia as our new representative. She is communicative, has come to several community meetings already, and is always polite and genuinely interested in resident’s views.

The Gold Finch Caravan Park issue, and Sno ‘s underhanded actions, were just one of several issues that the residents of the northern beaches put in an official complaint to Council earlier this year.

Here are the specifics of that complaint involving this Caravan Park...
  1. There was a conflict of interest involved. At a closed session of Council, an amount of $25,000 was provided by Indigo Ocean’s Edge Resort for an Options Report. They wanted to include a boardwalk from their property down to the jetty at Palm Cove beach. The Options Report was duly done and guess what, on the two options which were almost identical to one another, there was a board walk in-situ, Option 1. – boardwalk sited straight through the middle of the camping area, and Option 2. – boardwalk sited to the back of the camping area but close enough so that walkers talking etc would have disturbed the campers/holiday makers. Both ridiculous options and no real alternatives.

  2. The Ocean’s Edge advertising brochure was released before the matter came to Council for consideration and the boardwalk was mysteriously insitu without approval.

  3. The Council released the Options Report and advertised like mad for community input, literally a few days before Christmas of 2005. The consultation process closed Jan 2006. The local community association complained via Council and nothing happened so then Jason O’Brien intervened because of the state interest, and then all hell broke loose. Council were then forced to extend the consultation period to end of Feb 2006.

  4. Literally, hundreds of people put in submissions on this one, and then it took over twelve months (May 2007) for the Council to come up with the fact that they could not find the money for this grandiose plan (around $9 million), so at that meeting it was decided just to upgrade facilities. Obviously, Ocean’s Edge were not willing to cough up any extra dollars either.

There are some strong reasons why residents were strongly against what was on offer. The facts were that public space (camping area) was being significantly reduced, to make way for other vested interests, such as the Ocean’s Edge boardwalk. The commercial facilities that would border the Esplanade, a new and bigger public car park to appease Palm Cove traders.

Also the fact that a new road was being created around the circumference of the camping area to give a land owner on the southern side of Buchan Point, access to his property, which he currently did not have.

Imagine just how quiet the camping area would be with all those tourist buses and cars driving past your tent or van on their way to and from the jetty everyday?

Then there was also removal of the boat ramp. It is the only one north of Trinity Park. The lack of proper community consultation, and the underhanded way the original community engagement process was carried out, is of great concern. The fact the two options presented were almost identical to one another, except for the placement of the boardwalk, giving no real alternatives.

One alternative should have been the upgrade of facilities only.

So, according to Monday’s Cairns Post, the re-development of this much loved public space is back on Council’s agenda for a re-development not just a facelift.

The very fact that Sno Bonneau is involved again, and has gone out of his way to be involved in this issue, should raise public scrutiny of what is going on.

He should not be allowed anywhere near this project, not with his track record and the amount of animosity that most residents feel for this man who consistently failed in his duty as our elected representative.


Anonymous said...

Not forgetting that the "Caravan Park" was going to be moved to the "car park", and the car park moved to the Caravan Park. This would mean that the campers would be on a reduced area, with no trees and the cars would have more space and trees to park under.

Anonymous said...

On of the important issues in the caravan park re-development that residents were fuming over at the time, was that there a lot of pigs with commercial/private interests all vying for a piece of the public park, at the expense of the caravaners and campers who need low cost accommodation and holidays in a seaside location. The park is obviously still under threat if all these commerical and private interests get a piece of the pie, the area remaining not taken up by the boardwalk and other facilities, will then be deemed by Council as unprofitable etc.

Never fear, the residents of the Northern Beaches are keeping a very keen eye on what goes on here and we will be reporting any deviance or reduction of this public facility. Only recently, an application for the operation of helicotpers at a Palm Cove beside, right beside this Park, got trounced on by residents, with Council having to do a backflip and cover up as to how this application was even being considered on public land (again).

In June 2007, Council allocated $1 million dollars for the facelift option for the park ($200,000 for design work and $800,000 for facilities and improvements).