Wednesday 9 June 2010

A wet, dirty and explicit website launched for Cairns

The community behind reopening Sugarworld waterslides, has launched a website.

In is a memory-hungry site, and need a number of plug-ins to drive all the graphic elements.

The campaigners expect that the waterslides will not be open for 12 to 18 months because Cairns Regional Council has decided to address the whole waterpark with a study and strategic planning, instead of just rebuild the slides. This has therefore jeopardised the chance of the slides being opened by summer.

I wrote last week that, in light of the current climate, it's somewhat irresponsible for this Council to allocate $4m for the redevelopment of Sugarworld. The option to rebuild just two of the slides at a cost of $700,000, would have met with local community approval, and meant the park would have probably be reopened, at least in part, at the end of the year. The balance could have been constructed at a later date, when the economy picks up. Again, the trump on about community engagement, however rarely understand what that means.

They've asked for locals to visit the new website and follow the links to contact the councillors to express concerns.

Here's an email local supporter Lisa Robbie wrote to council:
  • I feel the greatest misfortune in the Sugarworld debacle is that the Waterslides have got caught up in a whole Waterpark issue.

    Having studied Quality Assurance and being a proponent of Total Quality Management & Continual Quality Improvement in the Health Industry, I am a great advocate for surveys, audits, research & consumer feedback. This is right up my alley. I understand the need for planning & I am behind you there.

    As I have mentioned previously, I live nearby & pass Sugarworld almost daily. I am well aware of how much it is being used. Besides the current slides issue, the single biggest problem there is parking. New slides will attract larger numbers as it is. Further development of the Waterpark in terms of extra features or a pool will further escalate the numbers. With limited parking this is a huge problem that will indeed take some clever lateral thinking & careful planning, ensuring that nearby local residents are not unfairly affected, that the botanical gardens are maintained & not encroached upon, & the longevity & future growth is considered.

    The future of the Waterpark is so important I don’t think a 3-month study would do it justice. I think it will take much more strategic planning. I believe the development of the Waterpark should be separated from the Waterslides issue.

    I would suggest a prompt & short-term community consultation process to determine the preferred option for the configuration of the slides ie: speed slide, raft slide, double etc. Perhaps limit the possibilities so that the replacements must terminate in the two existing pools. From the ‘talk around town’ that’s pretty much all the community wants anyway – 4 slides to replace the others without altering the existing layout of the Waterpark. I’m sure that Community Engagement activities (that I am all for) will reinforce what I have heard. Then go ahead & tender it out.

    A feasibility study by definition, determines the economic viability of a project. Some towns have free waterparks – Darwin’s Leanyer, Townsville’s Strand & Lagoon, Mackay’s Bluewater Lagoon. I am lead to wonder whether previous Council’s tendered for feasibility studies on The Esplanade Lagoon or Muddies Playground. These are certainly not economically viable. Why then is Sugarworld subject to a feasibility study? Logically it doesn’t have to be unless the hidden agenda is an ‘out’ for the council when the feasibility study indicates that it is not economically viable. If it is the Council’s intention to replace the slides anyway, then there is no need for the study. Would you (Council) be prepared to go ahead with replacing the slides even if the report did not favour doing so? How do you then respond to the community’s backlash when you act against the report’s recommendations?

    Instead, a longer-term, more intense study should be undertaken to investigate the future of the Waterpark, including issues of parking, impact on the gardens & nearby residents, and other water-features like a tip-bucket for example. Perhaps a working party for the future development of the park could be established.

    Take positive action now, get the slides in before Summer, let the schools have their end-of-year break-ups there, let families & community groups have their Christmas parties there & have the whole park open for the long hot Summer. While the community enjoys Sugarworld & its new slides, Council can take their time & plan other aspects of the Waterpark without the pressure of replacing the slides “asap”.

    I understand due process & accountability & I am in favour of strategic planning, yet the approach taken by Council on this issue to date does not seem logical. I hope my thoughts have provided some clarification & that we will see the issue of the Waterslides Replacement & future Waterpark Development dealt with separately.

    The proposal of our group is not unreasonable. I truly hope that we can work together to achieve a favourable outcome, but that can only happen with open communication, common goals & constructive collaboration.

At the recent Council meeting, the option to separate the waterslides from the whole Waterpark Strategic Planning process, was rejected. You need to respond to the Council now if you want prompt action on this issue.

1 comment:

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

What an amazing bit of well-thought out strategic, but PRACTICAL thinking from Ms. Robbie.

In considering in the current SugarWorld circumstances I reckon that the Council could:

A) Fix/replace the current waterslides for the $700,000 quoted so far. (Order them now, install by summer. Done. Easy.)

B) Council has voted for $4m all-up for renovation including waterslides. By all means apportion another 3.3 million, but span it over 3 to 4 years for the full renovation.
In this way we can spread the expense over time. We have WAY too much Council expenditure on non-essentials at the moment, & no-one wants rates to rise, as Cairns & environs is hurting badly.
(I mean, how much lighting DOES Grafton St need - & now there's less car parks, but is the Grafton St. carparking going to be cheaper - I think not!)
Apparently, this & previous Councils going back 12 years have not provided financial support to upgrade SugarWorld.

C) By all means conduct a proper report on doing a full upgrade - although do we really have to spend $350,000 on a bit of engineering & hydrology advice - (that figure sounds a lot like a Rudd BER Scheme item to me)? Could we make it - $50,000-100,000, by tender?

D) But for heavens sake immediately re-open the section of the park that excludes the slides. Obviously the park has huge community support, so it is ridiculous to close a whole facility because (say) 20% is bung.
Even though it is 'winter', there are still plenty of visitors from Down South going to Sugarworld with their Cairns friends & kids, for a nice day out, picnic, & BBQ.
Additionally, re-opening the park means that a few wages are retained for those working at the waterpark.

E) By allowing it to remain open, then Council could be earning INCOME, which we badly need.
Indeed, it would be interesting if some Councillor or Council boffin reading this could inform us just how much income SugarWorld has been making. Last year? Last five years?

F) Whether the other two waterparks in the offing ever get built, it another thing. At present, one is mired in State govt bureaucracy & potential crocodile problems, & Freebody's ideas - well, we shall see...

G) Additionally, neither of the proposed waterparks have given any benchmark figure of entry cost to the public, & I have a funny feeling that they will try to charge SeaWorld (Gold Coast attractions etc.) entry fees - say $120 a day.

H) Therefore Sugarworld should be retained as an operating venue, upgraded & enhanced, & enjoyed for low cost by ordinary Cairns families & visitors.

PS. If Ms. Robbie is at all unhappy with her day job, how about she runs for Council next time? I liked her intelligency, clarity, spark & communication skills - we could do with way more of that in the CRC arena, Lisa.

I've heard Alan Blake is beginning to consider himself a bit stale & over the hill re the whole Council thing (as we surely are of him), so perhaps there's a possy there?