Dog park bites the dust to allow public lighting to shine


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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PAWSED: The trial dog park at Hutchings Park will be put on hold for the time being despite soil and materials being placed at the site already. Image: Victoria Stone-Meadows.
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The lights have gone out on the trial dog park project at Hutchings Park, and in its place Douglas Shire Council is planning to spruce up the town in preparation for the tourist season.

Council’s ‘Light Up Port’ project comes following a Douglas Chamber of Commerce appeal to businesses to reinvigorate the town and ‘get out your paint brushes’.

But the decision to launch ‘Light Up Port’ and use the $145,000 budgeted for the now shelved doggie park – which will be revisited at a different location in the future – has come as a surprise announcement.

Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said today Councillors had held a discussion and a majority agreed that the region needs something special to help it through this tough period.

“Some people will be understandably disappointed about the decision to hold off on the trial dog park, however, we believe under the current circumstances, this tough decision will be welcomed by many traders in Port Douglas,” she said. 

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“While there was some support for the trial dog park, there were also legitimate concerns raised from nearby, directly impacted residents during consultation.

“It is Council’s view that the lighting project will better serve the whole community and be a more acceptable use of ratepayers’ money,” said Mayor Leu.

Not much is known about the details of the project, with Council saying: “We will release more details about the lighting project in coming weeks.”

One business owner, who preferred anonymity, questioned whether this has been thought through.

“What type of lights can we expect, their location, is there is a detailed plan which could be shared with business owners and will this project disrupt our businesses?”

Mayor Leu said Council officers are working on finalising details, including costs, for the lighting project in Macrossan Street.

Council crews have already started revamping garden beds at the Esplanade end of Port Douglas as part of a green splash for the main street.

The crews will work their way up Macrossan Street in coming months to make the street fresher and more vibrant.

“The garden revamp and lighting project will aim to present a vibrant Port Douglas and get tourists even more excited about coming to our region,” said Mayor Leu.

Meanwhile, Paws and Claws president Michael Kerr was unhappy when he was told the doggie park would be shelved.

“I was extremely disappointed that the money for the park would now be used for the lighting project which puts the doggie park on hold,” said Kerr, who is President of the Homeless Animal Society and the Douglas Animal Welfare Group.

Last month Kerr finally won the approval for an animal refuge centre in Teamsters Close after a legal battle with a number of Craiglie business entities.

Meanwhile, Mayor Leu said Council will re-visit investigating alternative locations for a dog park at a later date.

In what is also ironic, Newsport reported earlier this month construction of a trial off-lead dog park in Port Douglas was set to get underway in the next few weeks with materials already delivered to the site.

An update notice emailed to Port Gardens residents outlined where the project was at and what residents could expect as the project progressed.

According to the update notice, several truckloads of sand and soil were placed in Hutchings Park from works being undertaken in Murphy Street to repair landslips.

When the doggie park was announced, Mayor Leu said the off-leash area was a huge boost for the resort town.

“This is something dog owners have been asking for.

“Dog parks provide a fantastic opportunity for people and their pets to socialise with the wider community. I can see this park becoming a real social hub for pet lovers.”

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